There was a very disturbing moment during last night’s Borough Council meeting. As you may know, the Borough of Conshohocken bought the Verizon Building for $3.25 million in 2007. At that time the building had a tenant, Verizon, and the Borough made $610,000 as the landlord. Verizon’s lease ended in August 31, 2008. Since then the building has sat vacant and has turned into a festering mess of mold.
The disturbing moment came when Borough Council discussed the potential for state money, to the tune of $4,391,000, to come to the Borough and pay for the remediation of the building. During this discussion there was laughter when members of council joked about “fruit” and “mushrooms” growing inside the building. Residents should not find this funny. You can see where the money is included in a proposed state budget by clicking here (search “Conshohocken” and you will see it).
The question is, how and why was the building allowed to deteriorate to such a degree that the clean-up and fixing it up is now more costly than what was paid for the building? Who was responsible for maintaining and monitoring this Borough investment? Why hasn’t anyone been held accountable?
Now don’t get tied down by whether it was a wise investment for the Borough. That is not the issue. The issue is the Borough bought something, it wasn’t maintained properly and according to what I have been told you can’t currently walk inside without a mask and it basically looks like a mold bomb exploded all over the walls, floors and ceilings. The mold is not hidden behind the walls. It is EVERYWHERE.
Now the first thing the Borough representatives will say that there was a roofing company that did some work or did some testing of the roof and it was not patched right and this brought on the problem. Even if that is true, that does not get the Borough off the hook. There has been no law suit brought against anyone involving the Verizon Building and it wasn’t a $4 million dollar issue the next day.
So basically the state could end up taking care of this and there is also the proposed plan for the Verizon Building to be redeveloped by Keystone Properties if the developer is able to obtain the Borough owned property adjacent to the Washington Fire Company to build a boutique hotel.
So even if the Borough is able to get out from under this mold bomb sitting at 4th and Fayette, officials need to be held accountable.