A bed bug infestation in a town building caused an uproar in Hempstead last week.
After learning about the infestation in his office building, Donald X. Clavin, tax receiver and Republican candidate for supervisor, demanded at a news conference last Thursday that the Town of Hempstead close the building until it was fumigated.
“Why are we here today? Because there is simply a bed bug infestation problem in this building,” Clavin said.
The town did not close the building, but a fumigator came in, and Clavin’s spokesman said Tuesday that the infestation had been cleared up.
Last Thursday Clavin said that his office in the building at 200 N. Franklin St. in Hempstead has 50 employees and is about to see “one of the busiest seasons,” when “thousands and thousands” of residents come in.
Clavin said that he had been made aware of the problem last Thursday morning and criticized the town’s communication about the issue.
“This isn’t simply one office. It is now turned out to be in various departments,” Clavin said. He said that this included the economic development office, the public safety office and a lunchroom.
“Taxpayers deserve to know what you’re doing in this building,” Clavin said.
Right before Clavin’s news conference, Supervisor Laura Gillen’s press secretary, Michael Fricchione issued a statement opposing Clavin’s call for closing the building.
“The Town of Hempstead administration was informed of a possible bedbug threat last night in an office space located within the Town’s 200N. Franklin St. Building. Professional exterminators were immediately called to inspect and treat the infected area, which has been quarantined until another round of treatment takes place later tonight,” Fricchione said in a statement.
Fricchione said in his statement that the situation was discussed at length with union leaders and department heads.
The quarantine is in one area of the building and the town is doing what the experts suggest, he said. On Clavin’s news conference, Fricchione said it was “fear mongering at its worst.”
Fricchione said in an interview that this is not the first infestation in a town building and that it is not “normal protocol” to close buildings.
Clavin is running for supervisor against the Democratic incumbent, Laura Gillen. The general election is on Nov. 5.
On Tuesday, Clavin spokesperson Casey Sammons said, “We are told the building is safe.” In a followup email Sammons wrote, “The exterminator eventually came after work on Friday and on Saturday to treat the building (a full day after the Thursday press conference). Don had called for the administration to shut the building down on Thursday until the building was treated, but they did not.”
Sammons said that the exterminator saw no signs of bed bugs in the building and that the exterminator will do a follow-up inspection in two weeks to see if further treatment is needed.