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Courthouse contamination causes problems for museum, market

By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email
By: Elizabeth Dorsett Email

The old courthouse has housed the Lexington History Museum for years, but the exhibits won't be open for tours any time soon. That's all thanks to dangerous levels of lead in paint.

"We hope to to find a temporary location so we can open our doors in the neighborhood," explained museum President and CEO Jamie Millard.

City officials say the lead was discovered after a mold complaint from a volunteer. When results came back from a full building assessment, the lead contamination was of key concern. The first of many abatement teams are touring the building Thursday.

"From that, we'll know what type of time frame we have; weeks, months," Millard said.

While contractors assess the problem in the old courthouse and try to figure out what it how to get it back open to the public, the closure does have an effect on other events at the Fifth Third Pavilion. Those events include the Lexington Farmers Market.

"It's a key part of our market for our customers and farmers," Jeff Dabbelt, Executive Director of the Lexington Farmers Market Commented.

We spoke to Dabbelt Saturday while the popular market was in full swing. He says in addition to offering convenient indoor bathrooms to customers and vendors, the facilities in the more than century-old building are an important part of some operations.

"The convenience of keeping flowers hydrated; produce, you know, lettuce... keeping it hydrated. And people don't always think about the animals, but a lot of vendors put out dog drinking water."

Dabbelt says while contractors flush out the lead paint problem, he's working with other area businesses to offer an alternative to the port-a-potties.

City officials say they don't know how much it will take to renovate the building, making it safe for the public again. But, they do say it'll be millions of dollars.

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