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Leaks trigger mold in new city hotel
problems found, rooms fixed Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era
2009 06:01 EST
Leaking pipes left more than water stains in the recently opened Lancaster
Marriott at Penn Square.
Video that was shot before
last month's grand opening — obtained by WGAL from an unnamed source —
shows water leaking from a pipe and areas of black and yellow
mold growing on walls.
News 8, which brought in a
certified mold remediator to view
the video, said their expert reported "extensive
"I was pretty shocked," said
WGAL's expert, Ted Gallagher of EHC Associates. "It is pretty severe. It
is growing on both sides of the drywall."
Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray
said the mold issue "was a while
"Before they opened, there
were some leaks in the building," Gray said. "They found
mold in some of the rooms and
tore the rooms out and totally redid them."
In a story that appeared in
last week's Sunday News, Thomas
D. Smithgall of High Real Estate and Penn Square Partners acknowledged
that water leaks rendered about 20
of the hotel's 300
rooms unusable for a few weeks.
Gary Horning, chief of the
City of Lancaster's Bureau of Code Compliance and Inspections, also called
the leaks "minor."
No mention of
mold was made.
Smithgall said Tuesday that
the problem was two-fold.
The first problem occurred
when water from a rooftop cooling system was diverted down an emergency
"A fitting on that system
failed, and we got water into the upper two floors of the building,"
This leak affected rooms on
the hotel's topmost floors, he
said. To correct it, sections of drywall and vinyl wall-covering were
removed and replaced and the areas dried.
Then, "a few days before we
opened," Smithgall said, water was put into the
hotel's pressurized hot water
distribution system, a system of pipes that carries hot water to the
rooms. Numerous slow leaks developed that were not easily detected. These
leaks affected between 20 and 24
rooms, mainly around the elevator shaft, on "floors 10
through 19," Smithgall said.
Because "we knew we had water
in more than just one or two selected areas," Smithgall said, a
professional remediation firm was brought in to test for
mold. The firm found "detectable
levels of mold inside the
"We immediately went in,
removed all the drywall and all the insulation in all the rooms impacted
and rebuilt all those areas over the last two or three weeks," Smithgall
As of now, "all the rooms
have been remediated, and all have been tested. Our testing agency has
given us an all-clear," he said.
"This is an issue we felt we
dealt with when the problem arose," Smithgall said. "No one from the
general public was in the rooms. Our first objective was to make sure that
the general public was not exposed."
On July 7, the
hotel and convention center
passed indoor air-quality standards, and city health officials toured the
"Our building inspector came
through with our health department today," Gray said. "They found
everything in order. They didn't find anything."
Penn Square Partners consists
of Penn Square General Corp., an affiliate of the High Companies, and Penn
Square Ltd. LLC, an affiliate of Lancaster
Newspapers Inc., publisher of the
Sunday News and the Intelligencer
Journal/Lancaster New Era.