The Englewood Public Library and portions of the Englewood Civic Center have been temporarily closed after test results found levels of methamphetamine contamination, the city announced Jan. 11.
According to the city’s website, four restrooms were tested — two in the library and two on the second floor of the civic center — as well as other areas in the library and civic center. QUEST Environmental, a Colorado-based environmental consulting firm, conducted the tests.
On the morning of Jan. 11, the city received preliminary test results that showed there were levels of methamphetamine contamination that exceeded state thresholds in the restrooms and the north entrance lobby of the civic center, said Chris Harguth, the city’s director of communications.
After receiving these results, the city decided to temporarily close the library, the north civic center lobby and the second-floor restrooms at the civic center.
“The restrooms in the library and the restrooms on the second floor of the civic center were of the greatest concerns and will probably require more extensive remediation,” Harguth said. “We’re looking at a remodel, essentially, of the restroom areas.”
The remediation process will likely involve the removal of contaminated surfaces, walls, ductwork, drywall and exhaust fans, Harguth said. Remediation will be done on the library restrooms and the two restrooms on the second floor of the civic center.
According to the city’s website, other spaces in the library also tested positive for “lower levels of contamination” and will need “specialized cleaning” rather than remediation.
“All of this will be in accordance with health and safety requirements set by the state of Colorado and Arapahoe County Public Health," he said.
In an email on Jan. 12, Harguth said the Englewood Department of Public Works and Arapahoe County's new public health department "were in communication immediately following the release of the preliminary testing results and communicated multiple times throughout the day."
Arapahoe County Public Health said in a Jan. 12 news release that it is working closely with Englewood to “assess and provide direction regarding the clean-up of methamphetamine (meth) residue” from locations within the library and civic center.
"Additional testing is planned, and test results will inform next steps," Arapahoe County Public Health said in the release. "Health risks to the general public are considered low and visitors should comply with all posted signage and avoid all closed areas while remediation is in progress, which may take several months. "
On Jan. 11, Harguth said it was unknown how long the areas will be closed, as the city still needed to identify a contractor to do the remediation work.
“Our goal is just to complete the work as quickly as possible and get the library open as quickly as possible,” he said.
“The test results we received today are troubling, and we immediately began working to remediate affected spaces with the goal of reopening the library as soon as possible,” City Manager Shawn Lewis said in a Jan. 11 news release. “We want to thank our valued library patrons for their patience as we work to ensure our library is safe for everyone.”
Testing for methamphetamine contamination began the week of Jan. 2, Harguth said.
The city decided to do the testing for two reasons — the news that a Boulder public library had methamphetamine contamination in late December as well as a recent increase in staff and patron reports of drug use at the Englewood library.
“Based on what happened in Boulder, based on concerns from staff, it really prompted the city to conduct this testing,” Harguth said.
Harguth said he spoke with the library director and “there’s definitely been an uptick in reports over the past, like, four months” of drug use in the library.
The city recently increased funding for additional library staff and contracted with a new security firm, Allied Security, that is conducting more surveillance inside and outside the library, Harguth said.
Those interested in learning more and reading the city’s answers to frequently asked questions can visit: englewoodco.gov/restroom-closure.
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