Asbestos Found in Cultural Center

An old elementary school that now houses the Cultural Arts Center in Dothan, Alabama has a severe asbestos problem, says Ann Cotton, executive director of the center.

According to an article in the Dothan Eagle, asbestos tiles are constantly coming loose in the cafeteria area, Cotton notes, creating a hazard every time a member of the maintenance staff mops the cafeteria floor. Cotton worries about asbestos exposure, she says, because the cafeteria is a busy area and often hosts special events that involve children.

“It’s in a public place,” Cotton said. “Floor tiles have come up. When I took over the center a year ago, tiles were already up. Pieces are broken.”

Cotton says the Cultural Arts Center took possession of the building in 2002 and is ready to begin its second round of renovations at the school, but they can’t proceed until they address the asbestos problem. She is asking the city to pay $23,000 to have it removed from the sprayed on ceiling, over pipes and conduit, in the ductwork and in the floor tiles and mastic that held the tiles to the concrete slab. In the meantime, activities in the cafeteria area will be severely limited.

“The cafeteria part was an addition made to the building in the early ‘70s. At that time, asbestos was something you used,” she said. “In terms of our use now, it is a high traffic area but we go to that room less often now.”

Cotton said no one is panicked over the asbestos, but everyone wants the space cleared as soon as possible.

“We know asbestos is there and most of our tenants know. We have concerns if it stays. That room is the second largest multi-use space the center has. We use it for arts classes that are large and 50 kids are in there for the art portion of our summer multi-discipline camp. We can’t move forward until that is removed. We thought it would be by September.”

The city, who leases the building to the center, has indicated that they will help with the asbestos abatement.

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