The Town of Hempstead on Thursday shut down an office building where hundreds of town employees work to ensure an infestation of bedbugs has been eradicated.
Town workers first spotted the pests at 200 N. Franklin St., last week. Since then, town spokesman Mike Fricchione said, an exterminator treated the building on three consecutive days and found no live bugs there during an inspection Wednesday.
But John Furman, a town parks department employee who also owns a bedbug control company, said he volunteered to inspect the building himself on Wednesday, and found “several live bugs and viable eggs.”
“The treatment wasn’t done right,” he said Thursday.
Fricchione said the building would be closed Thursday through at least Monday, and employees would work elsewhere in the meantime. He said the town had hired a second extermination company to inspect the building with the assistance of a bedbug-sniffing dog.
“The town’s long-serving exterminator will continue to monitor the building, along with a second exterminator, and perform routine treatments in order to ensure the problem remains fully addressed,” Democratic Supervisor Laura Gillen said in a statement.
Town Tax Receiver Don Clavin, who works in the infested building, praised the news of the building shutdown, which he and the town’s CSEA union president called for last week.
“I'm happy that the supervisor has a week later finally agreed … that the office should be closed,” said Clavin, a Republican who is challenging Gillen for her seat this fall. “Let's put the health and safety of the taxpayers and the employees first,” he said.
Clavin said his office will collect tax payments in the parking lot outside the building until exterminators have cleared the infestation.
Bedbugs are brown, apple-seed-sized critters that feed on sleeping humans and other animals, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. They are hard to eradicate and are capable of surviving in low temperatures and without food for long periods. A female bedbug can lay multiple eggs per day, according to the federal agency.
The infested building houses various town departments including parks, public safety and economic development.