Victoria County has to evaluate 3 historic buildings for lead paint and asbestos before it can go ahead with plans for expanding the courtroom. On Tuesday, the Commissioners Court approved spending $18500 with an engineering firm called Professional Service Industries (PSI) on 3 hazardous material surveys on: Victoria County Historic Jail (210 West Constitution); historic firehouse at 209 West Forrest Street; and 1842 spa building at 103 South Glass Street. The commissioners also voted for engaging Rawley McCoy for studying the courtroom project and comparing costs.
The study by McCoy would cost a maximum of $20000.
Both the studies put Victoria County on the right track for adding space for the jam-packed judicial system in which 8 judges share 4 courtrooms.
Don Pozzi, the County Judge, says his aim is to keep the extra courtrooms also in the very same block as the 115 North Bridge Street courthouse.
As it needs high skill and care to deal with asbestos, any works involving the substance are time-consuming as well as costly. Authorized professionals are only allowed to handle asbestos.
According to the county, the jail survey would cost nearly $12000. The estimated cost for the spa survey is $4000. And, the firehouse survey is expected to cost approximately $2500.
Kevin Janak, one of the County Commissioners, said that the spa bldg. was constructed prior to the American Civil War (fought between 1861 and 1865). As the dangerous features of asbestos were not known then, it was extensively used as a construction material. For this reason, majority of the historic buildings contain asbestos. It was only in the 1980s that the use of asbestos began to be restricted and regulated. Asbestos is not banned still. However, now there are strict regulations to be followed while handling asbestos. Asbestos is a carcinogen and it can be deadly if the material is disturbed or broken. For this reason, prior to the renovation or demolition of any asbestos-containing structure, the material has to be removed safely.
According to Pozzi, the Texas State Historical Commission is asking the Victoria County for renovating the spa building. But, he says, the court would look at all possible options. Pozzi said the studies will help determine the costs for removing the dangerous materials present in the historic buildings.
The historic jail is now being used by the office of the sheriff, whereas, the maintenance department of the county is using the firehouse.