Inspectors testing rec center, preschool for dangerous chemicals

by: Linzi Sheldon Updated:


Normandy Park, Wash. - State inspectors with Washington’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration are testing a Normandy Park recreation center and preschool for lead paint and asbestos. The paint is flaking from windows on the rec center’s dance studio, multipurpose room and preschool classroom, and the city of Normandy Park is concerned kids could eat it.

City officials have put up caution tape to keep kids away from the windows and put up notices but are not closing the center. City Manager Glenn Akramoff showed KIRO 7 what inspectors believe could be lead paint and window caulking with asbestos.

“I didn’t know there was a problem,” parent Greg Ring said. “They will need to figure it out now.”

The notices surprised Ring, whose teenage daughter takes classes at the rec center.

The building was constructed in 1956 as a school and converted into a rec center in 1989. Akramoff said the city has had growing worries the structure might have some of the features, like lead paint and asbestos, common in buildings of its time. Asbestos is a known carcinogen. And lead paint can lead to lead poisoning, causing  nervous system damage and even seizures if young children consume a lot of it.

Over the last six to eight months city staff consulted with architects and the city’s insurance company, and on Thursday state officials examined the site up close and took samples.

“We asked them point blank: is there any reason for us to fully close either building?” Akramoff said. “They said ‘No, there’s no imminent danger to anyone.’”

Akramoff said students in the preschool, which was on its last day, were kept away from the windows. People can cancel reservations for a refund if they are uncomfortable. The rec center’s gym is not affected.

Dance instructor Melanie Sartin warned all her students. She said she worries the city may choose demolition over a fix.

“We’re at a crossroads, going, are we going to shut this down?” Sartin said. “Are we going to keep going with it?”

Akramoff said early next week it  will be sealing plastic covers over the windows outside and inside to prevent kids from touching the windows. State inspectors are expected to get their test results in about six weeks.

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