Wilmington Selectboard discusses future repairs for library

Thursday December 27, 2012

WILMINGTON -- Repairs at the Pettee Memorial Library may be bigger than expected this year.

"There have been some major infrastructure problems in the past three to four months," Pettee Memorial Library Trustee and Treasurer Louis Clark told the Selectboard on Dec. 19.

Part of the ceiling collapsed in the stacks section of the building, which has gone without repair. This is where the books are and the actual hole in the ceiling is near the circulation desk.

The estimate for fixing the ceiling is $4,500. Wood in the ceiling is exposed and it is largely an aesthetic issue.

"It's not a quote, it's an estimate," Clark told the Reformer on Wednesday. "The fellow won't know until he gets in there now."

There was a leak in the roof of the library that may have caused that part of the ceiling to collapse, although no one is completely sure it is a direct cause and effect.

Brattleboro Roofing and Sheet Metal did the repair on the leak in October.

The leak wasn't the only problem Brattleboro Roofing found with the roof. The company takes care of all roofing repairs and improvements at the library, Clark said. It gave the library an estimate of around $68,000 to repair the whole thing.

"We've had considerable roof problems over the last few years," said Clark. "There's been consistent elevator problems, but no major repairs to the building. Just a couple thousand dollars here and a couple thousand there. Nothing major. It was more maintenance than major improvements."

The library trustees are deciding what to do next.

"Now it's up to us, when and what to do about it."

One of the options is to take money out of the library's endowment funds and have the town repay it over the course of a few years.

"We're figuring out what to do for the budget for next year. We're going to put in the amount for the re-financing of the roof. If we go out to bid this year, we'll repay from our endowment fund."

Clark said this was "the most viable option," but one idea included borrowing money from a bank. Another was delaying the repairing of the roof for a couple years and raising the money in the mean time.

Borrowing money from the endowment fund would be the best option because it would be loaned at a better rate than it would be at a bank, Clark pointed out.

"We're exploring other options. We're not locked into it. It is a reasonable way to get the roof repaired in a timely fashion."

The library trustees also need to decide whether to use slate or asphalt shingles when repairing the roof. The roofing on the library was done with slate in the past.

Either way, the roof is something that needs to be considered. Brattleboro Roofing told the library trustees that the roof is deteriorating rapidly and will need to be replaced in the next few years, Clark said.

An exterior door on the School Street entrance had been replaced earlier in December. The final bill hasn't come yet. The whole project cost a little less than $1,000.

Clark said the library has become aware of some respiratory issues.

"We're constantly weeding out books that haven't been circulated and what not. There have been minor mold problems and complaints from people with respiratory problems in the children's reading area in the basement."

A humidifier was installed in July to help with this issue.

When a Selectboard member asked if the major roof repair would be a required item for this year's budget, Clark said, "I don't think so."

But, if the library were to apply for government grants, it may be required to fix it.

The discussion at the Selectboard meeting was aimed to find out which budgetary items would be tackled. The roof was not expected to be on the list, Wilmington Town Manager Scott Murphy told the Reformer.

"Hopefully, they'll take our suggestions," he said, which means that the library board of trustees would have to take money out of endowment funds. "We're looking for the best way to proceed."

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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