Library Project Update

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Access to the Kent Memorial Library was nicely cleared right after Storm Stella. Wishful thinking?

Photo by Lester Smith

Access to the Kent Memorial Library was nicely cleared right after Storm Stella. Wishful thinking?

The Permanent Building Commission (PBC) and the Public Works Department staff have continued to address the issue of how best to encapsulate most of the painted interior surfaces of the 1972 building to be very sure that the level of PCB contamination in the interior air will be satisfactory. Resident Matt Auchy’s proposal to apply the impermeable epoxy coating he sells as district sales manager for manufacturer PPG is being viewed favorably. However, the commission feels that the old paint should first be scraped and wire brushed. The commission seems satisfied that the PPG proposal is being made as an honest attempt by a resident to save his town the big expense of sand-blasting off all the old paint, at least on the ceiling, which appears to be the most culpable source of airborne PCB. Nevertheless, on the advice of Town Counsel Derek Donnelly, estimates will be sought from other suppliers.

The results of sample paint adhesion tests were discussed at the March 2 PBC meeting. More such tests may be planned, as well as more air testing, with small regions of a room treated and coated variously and sequestered for localized air tests. PCB expert Bob May has reported that he believes there is not yet adequate information to develop a remediation plan he can present to the Environmental Protection Administration for approval.

At the March 16 PBC meeting, Chairman Joe Sangiovanni reviewed his recent meeting with May, who has agreed to meet again with Sangiovanni and a few others to discuss how to proceed with the PCB remediation task. Such a meeting was planned for March 27, to be reported at the next meeting of the full PBC, scheduled for April 6.

On another matter, plans now call for the library’s historical room to be considerably changed. New “compact storage” units have been obtained, funded variously, and they have been delivered and are now stored in the lower lobby of the building, awaiting installation. But that cannot happen without the approval of the Suffield Building Inspector, who requires certified engineering drawings of their installation before his review. The surprisingly high cost of these drawings has been authorized by the Library Commission, and Silver-Patricelli (the architect firm for the old building’s renovation) will view the room and prepare the drawings.

Another must-settle issue prior to fully reopening the library is the auditorium, which was discovered not many months ago to have side aisles too narrow for safe egress. As the current renovation of the old building must bring all aspects up to modern standards, some change to the aisles is required, perhaps by replacing the seats with narrower ones, or by removing one seat in each row and shifting the remaining seats. The PBC has not yet settled this issue, having given its attention first to the seemingly intractable PCB problem. Funds for this auditorium work may be included in the “secondary” budget of the Advisory Commission for Capital Expenditures, yet to be approved by the Board of Finance and the Town.

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