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Bodylink cites odor, leaves Mile Hill Plaza site

Gregg Sampson, physical therapist and founder of Bodylink, has moved his health club last week from Mile Hill Plaza to his Silverdale location, breaking its lease agreement because of what he calls “a noxious odor” in the building.

“There’s environmental problems,” Sampson said. “There’s bad air. There’s an odor. We’re not able to conduct our kind of business in that environment.”

According to Sampson, the building that housed Bodylink was re-roofed in the spring of 2003, creating a strong odor inside the business that he likened to enamel paint.

“For whatever reason, the (re-roofing) process got into the building and has continued to perpetuate,” Sampson said.

Eli Genauer, managing member of M.H. Realty, LLC, owns the building in question. Genauer said he bought the shopping center about two years ago, when it was already 15 years old.

“We own one in Silverdale and one in Kingston,” Genauer said. “We own the smaller buildings and manage the whole property.”

Genauer said one of the things he noticed right away was that the buildings he owned on the property needed new roofs. He said he contracted BR Roofing, Inc., to re-roof the buildings he owned in Mile Hill Plaza. The re-roofing would be completed in two stages — one stage was completed in the spring of 2003, the other this past spring.

“We’ve been using them for the last 20 years. We’ve done 10 or 15 roofs with them and never had any problems,” Genauer said.

According to Genauer, Sampson initially called him in June 2003 complaining about the smell after a day of 90-degree heat.

“Sampson called me and I got the roofer out there right away, even though the roofer assured me the ‘gassing off’ would go away after a few hot days,” Genauer said. “We put an aluminum coating on the roof even though it cost us $7,000.”

According to Genauer, Sampson kept complaining, so he hired Clayton Group Services to run tests on the air quality in the building. The tests indicated the air was well within the regulatory limitations. They sent the report to Bodylink last August.

“We didn’t know what to do, really,” Genauer said. “(Clayton Group Services) recommended we keep fresh air flowing through the building, which we did.”

Genauer said he hired a Bremerton company, Advanced Heating and Air Conditioning, to install an air-circulating system.

Sampson said he has also had the air tested multiple times by a Seattle environmental company, Prezant.

“(According to the tests), our problem has actually increased four times within 16 months, which is not a typical reaction,” he said.

Sampson said although the air quality wasn’t deemed harmful, the company concluded the air held a noxious odor and was an irritant to some people’s systems.

“It’s an air quality problem,” Sampson said. “Different people have different reactions. We’ve had people complain about sore throats, nausea, burning eyes, headaches and bronchial conditions. People with asthma seem to suffer a greater frequency of asthmatic attacks.”

Sampson said the upcoming summer months were large factor in his decision to leave when he did.

“Last summer, it was very difficult to operate,” Sampson said. “The odor is far worse when it’s about 70 degrees, especially if the space has been closed for a few days. We had a hard time getting people to feel comfortable working out in the afternoon.”

Sampson said Bodylink, a health center specializing in physical therapy and sports performance training, was fortunate it didn’t lose a lot of business due to the odor.

“We didn’t lose a huge amount, because people, once they got used to our staff, knew it wasn’t our fault,” Sampson said. “We’ve chosen to not further risk damaging people’s overall health.”

Sampson said he is frustrated with the Genauer’s response to the problem.

“He tried to troubleshoot,” Sampson said, by putting a protective coating on the roof and purchasing fans to help clear the air. “It’s been frustrating because building owners don’t like to deal with extra problems.”

Mike Whyte, manager of Six Star, a store in the same complex as Bodylink, said he has also noticed the smell, but has no intention of leaving anytime soon.

“We do smell some,” Whyte said. “We noticed as the days warmed up. They’ve brought in air blowers and some ventilation systems to clear the air.”

Whyte said he’s concerned with the quality of the air, but trusts Genauer and others in charge to make sure the air is safe.

“I’ve heard there’s test results out there, but I’ve never seen them,” Whyte said. “I’d like to see them. It concerns us, but I’m pleased with what (Genhauer’s) doing right now. They’re going to do whatever it takes to take care of it.”

Whyte seconds Sampson, saying the odor is worse on hotter days.

“We just try to rectify it, keep it ventilated,” Whyte said. “(Genhauer’s) doing everything he can. When I see results from the air quality test, we’re going to react to them. We’re going to do what’s safest for our employees and our customers.”

According to Genauer, the last summer’s problems with the roof surfaced again this spring.

“I didn’t hear from Bodylink until about two months ago when they called to complain that they still had an odor problem and I wasn’t doing anything about it,” Genauer said.

“I try to be as responsive as I possibly can,” Genauer said. “I feel terrible that they had the smell. I feel bad that they moved out. I tried my best.”

Sampson said he is worried Bodylink won’t be able to continue to draw its South Kitsap clients to Silverdale.

“Most people want to be as close to home as possible,” Sampson said. “We will return to the South Kitsap area when we find the correct space, the correct location. We’re working back toward the southern part of the county.”

“We’ve told people that if the air becomes clean and (Genauer) is fair about a resolution, we would even come back,” Sampson said. “We put a lot of time and love into that space creatively.”

Genauer said he is at a loss as to why there is an odor and what he can do to help. He said it started as an act of good faith toward building’s businesses after he bought the property.

“We just tried to do something nice for the tenants,” Genauer said.

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