Cleaning and decontamination at the YMCA Learning Center, located on Palmer Street, is nearing completion, at a total cost so far of over $500,000.

30 year-old Autumn Heinz is accused of constructing a ‘meth den’ in the Learning Center’s laundry facility in April, and methamphetamine residue was confirmed in several areas of the building. She is currently in the Missoula County Jail on $30,000 bond, after pleading not guilty to drug charges.

Newly named CEO of the Missoula Family YMCA Heather Foster said the final test results for the facility are expected either today or Friday.

“In order to guarantee that everything in the Learning Center is clean and safe, we gutted the entire building,” said Foster. “A full rebuild will take place. We took out all the ceiling tiles, ceiling grids, fire suppression systems and all of the lights. We’ll be installing new ones as well as new flooring, new cabinetry in every single classroom.”

Foster said the overall costs of cleaning and remodeling the building so far is approximately $500,000.

“We chose instead of having everything cleaned, to get rid of everything,” she said. “That means we’ll have to purchase all new curriculum, all new desks, new chairs, right down to the million different glue bottles you need in a childcare facility like that, so it’ll be a very extensive remodel by the time this is all done.”

Foster said the YMCA is working with their insurance carrier, but so far have had to bear the entire cost of the cleanup alone.

“For the first time ever, we’re opening up a line of credit to make sure we can get the building up and running and safe, and get all of our families back in there,” she said. “That’s a first for our organization. We’re a debt-free nonprofit, so our board has made a pretty tough decision to go ahead and move forward with that so that we can continue serving our families. We’ve learned a very hard lesson, and I don’t think anyone could have gone further in making sure that our kids are well taken care of.”

Foster expects to be back in their Palmer Street facility sometime in mid-July.


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