Telluride, CO – When inspectors walked into Telluride Apartments, a white-walled complex in Mountain Village, they found walls and ceilings painted with mold. There was mold in the closets and bathrooms, mold blooming on window sills and covering fiberglass insulation.
They found a litany of problems, from mold to pests to leaking roofs, and on July 24, Village inspectors declared Telluride Apartments a “dangerous building,” according to an eight-page notice taped to the complex’s front doors. The owners were told to bring the building up to code by Aug. 31, or the building would be evacuated.
“The ultimate goal is to bring this into what we call minimum standards for living,” said Chad Root, Mountain Village’s building official.
Telluride Apartments, a 30-unit complex in the Meadows neighborhood, is privately owned and managed, but serves many lower-income and working families. Many residents are Latino immigrants who speak mostly Spanish — a fact that could have allowed the mold problems to go unchecked, officials said.
“They don’t speak a lot of English, so they can live in these conditions and don’t complain,” Root said. But some residents said they were intimately familiar with the mold and had been battling it all spring and winter, scrubbing it from the walls and baseboards and window sills. Two families said they’d switched apartments to get away from the reappearing clusters of black mold.
“My girls would get sick, but I really never knew if it was dangerous because no one ever told me,” said one resident, who asked not to be named because she feared reprisals from building management.
The woman said she and her family have lived in Telluride Apartments for seven years, but never saw severe mold problems until this winter’s deep, wet snows began piling up. When mold started spreading in the closets, the woman would take out all the clothes and scrub the walls with bleach. But the growths would return within a few weeks, she said. “You would see the stains,” she said. “It was really bad.”
The regional manager for Telluride Apartments directed a reporter’s phone call to Connie Bosley, who is connected to a Wyoming company that runs the complex. No one connected with Telluride Apartments returned phone messages yesterday.
But Dusty Atherton, an inspector for the Village’s Design Review Board, said the owners have been working to fix the problem. Yesterday, apartment doors were papered with notices alerting them that cleanup would begin soon, and that Village inspectors would be coming through on Tuesday. “They have been nothing but cooperative,” Atherton said.
This is the Village’s second battle with mold this year. In late April, one resident at the town-owned Village Court Apartments said he’d gotten sick from mold inside his home, and inspectors found mold growing on window casings, walls and ceilings in a few apartments.
The Village quickly hired an environmental consultant to diagnose and treat the problem. He inspected six of the “worst case” apartments and found mold in four, including “very elevated” numbers of airborne spores in one of the older apartments.
Inspectors are returning to Telluride Apartments today to examine more homes, and Root suggested that the problem could be more severe than the growths at Village Court. “This is a lot worse,” he said. “We had entire walls and ceilings covered in mold.”
When inspectors first went to Telluride Apartments, they found work crews spraying fungicide to combat the rash of mold. But the management hadn’t obtained a permit before starting the eradication, Root said. “They were trying to cover up a massive amount of mold,” he said.
In all, Village inspectors delivered a 17-item cleanup list to the owners of Telluride Apartments. It tells them to hire an exterminator and industrial hygienist, to fix the roof, repair any broken plumbing, and fix or replace the fire extinguishers, emergency lights, hall lights and smoke alarms and concrete walkways.
“All deficiencies shall be fixed but are not limited to the items on this list,” the notice says.