CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Cincinnati Police District 5 headquarters is old, but the building is in relatively good shape, City Manager Harry Black said in a live interview Thursday on FOX19 NOW Morning News.
On Wednesday, City Councilmen Charlie Winburn and Wendell Young called the conditions in District Five "deplorable" after touring the 57-year-old Ludlow Avenue building.
Winburn also said the building should be condemned and the 129 sworn officers and 5 civilian employees who work there should be immediately moved.
City officials barred FOX19 NOW and other media from the tour, citing police policy.
But last month, the president of the union that represents Cincinnati police exclusively invited FOX19 NOW on a tour of District 5 to expose conditions he said were "shameful."
During the tour, Sgt. Dan Hils raised questions about the state of the building and its air quality. He wrote Black a letter demanding the city have it tested for mold and radon.
[Related story: "Cincinnati FOP to Council: Move cops out of 'shameful' District 5 now"]
Black said the city will conduct tests and continues to monitor the situation at District 5 and make improvements.
In his interview Thursday, Black said: "From an environmental standpoint, District 5 is in good shape. We've just recently had a team go in and do a variety of tests.
"There was some mention of mold associated with some sort of air ducts in District 5. Upon closer examination, the mold that people thought was there are just clothing fibers because you have a great many uniforms that are stored there and the air circulation pulled fibers from the uniforms and they stuck to the air vents."
Black also said that any improvements or a new building for District 5 would likely have to wait until 2018 or 2019 budget.
A new building is estimated to cost $17-$20 million, he said.
He tells FOX19 NOW he thinks it is more likely a renovated building will be the solution, but City Council will ultimately decide whether to build a new facility or renovate one of the city's existing properties.
City Council is expected to pass the 2018 budget in June.
If Council does not earmark money for a new District 5 at that time, one councilman, Christopher Smitherman, said earlier this week he will work to put the matter on the ballot in the form of a tax issue within a year.
Black noted Thursday the police department has been receiving the greatest level of city spending and investment.
There have been multiple recruit classes in each of the last three years. A new one started this week.
A new, 39,000 square-foot District 3 headquarters that cost $16 million opened in Westwood last year. That was the first new police station the city built in more than 40 years. It's a LEED Platinum and Nat Zero Energy facility able to generate as much energy as it consumes.
The city also has purchased more than 100 new police vehicles, Black said.
"This is unprecedented investment in our police department," he said.
But in response, the police union president said District 5 is not in good shape and the money spent on the new District 3 also could have gone to fund a new facility for District 5.
"The building is in very poor shape. The building is inadequate size and the parking is very inadequate, as is the building's location and security layout," Hils said Thursday. "I still believe there is mold in the building. I know they have done a lot of cleaning there since we first went there for a tour last month.
"I believe there should have been a common sense solution that replaced District 3 and 5 with consideration to spending less on any one project."