01/20/12 — W.A. Foster reopens today after asbestos investigation

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W.A. Foster reopens today after asbestos investigation

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on January 20, 2012 1:46 PM

Goldsboro's most-used recreation facility opened back up today after almost a month of closure due to asbestos concerns and subsequent studies to determine whether it was safe.

Parks and Recreation Director Scott Barnard said Thursday that W.A. Foster Recreation Center would open up this morning at 9 and begin getting back to its original schedule after being closed since Dec. 21.

A structural engineer hired to evaluate possibilities for expansion of the center and installation of a new gymnasium floor brought the asbestos concerns to Barnard's attention in December, leading to a second consultant's visit and the shutting of the center.

Studies found that, like most buildings built before the 1980s when asbestos was shown to cause serious health issues, nearly all of the building materials contained the substance, although not in its fibrous, breathable form.

The material was found in the tiles, walls and ceilings of the facility, which, if properly maintained, don't pose threats to patrons, although loose, fibrous asbestos used to insulate pipes in the building's basement was discovered as well.

Air testing was conducted during the first week of January and revealed there were no health issues, although a management plan for the asbestos had to be formed to guide how the material and the building should be dealt with.

The areas where asbestos was in its breathable, dangerous form -- the boiler room, a crawl space and possibly a classroom -- will be isolated from the rest of the building and patrons and staff will not be permitted there.

The ordeal spawned discussion at the Jan. 9 City Council meeting about the center's future, especially since the asbestos materials within the building will make expansion of the facility expensive if not impossible. City Manager Scott Stevens said the city would likely look at replacing the facility within the next two to five years, while Mayor Al King sought to assure citizens that there were no plans to close the center permanently.