HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Ross Sasamura, city director of Facilities Maintenance, says Honolulu Hale is safe for the public.
He also says the building is full of lead paint and asbestos, both of which are cancer-causing.
"It's something that we're always very vigilant about; protecting public health and the health of our staff," he said. "Those areas are actually all over the building. They're contained beneath the paint on the walls, and floor tiles beneath the carpeting."
At the City Council's budget meeting Tuesday, council members revived an old feud about the lead and asbestos, saying the city needs to do something soon to address the issue.
Sasamura argues any removal, given the potential scale of the project, should be included in a greater renovation of the building. "It would be the appropriate time to revise floor plans as necessary to meet the needs of the future" he said.
Council members were less than impressed.
"That's exactly what they said last year, and exactly what they said during the budget," said Councilman Trevor Ozawa.
City Council members say air quality at Honolulu Hale is poor, and employees complain of getting sick. They want action now.
"We shampoo the carpet as best we can, but we can't remove it and change it because of the asbestos underneath," said Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi.
Ozawa added, "We can't fix the windows because they also have asbestos in the caulking."
Top to bottom removal of the known carcinogens was estimated at $50 million last year. However, members say such a massive overhaul is worth it
"Let's not be penny wise and pound foolish," Ozawa said. "Let's take care of it now."