TAMPA, Fla. - "It is loud and it's also very dusty,” said Tampa City Council Member Harry Cohen.
Wrapped in plastic and scaffolding, windows boarded-up, Tampa’s Old City Hall is undergoing a $16-million dollar facelift --- a loud and messy one.
"The combination of the two things makes it not the ideal work environment to meet with people,” said Cohen.
"There's a lot of dust, particulates that are coming in here and the windows are completely sealed so we can't ever open up the windows to get some fresh air in,” said Chairman Tampa City Council Mike Suarez.
We're learning the city has relocated 14 city employees to the nearby downtown public library after serious concerns voiced by some who work here.
"The noise is unbelievable when they're doing work here. We've asked them to stop during the time that we're doing council meetings which had worked out fairly well," said Suarez.
ABC Action News put in a public records request. We discovered the city paid for an environmental study in January to check mold, dust and asbestos levels.
Council member Yvonne Yolie Capin penned a letter to Chairman Suarez on January 27th expressing "concerns regarding the air quality” adding one staff member is advised by a doctor not to be exposed to irritants because of asthma.
But the city says the testing came back clean.
"There's no concern to the public as to whether or not the building is safe,” said Director Tampa Logistics Ocea Lattimore.
Lattimore tells me they are taking extra precautions to move some staff for comfort, though regular meetings are still happening in council chambers.
"You're not able to talk on the phone. Sometimes we have elderly people call us. It's really difficult with that noise because we can't hear it,” said Suarez.
So in the meantime, council members are meeting with constituents outside of Old City Hall.