Library Project Update

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The long-drawn-out work to renovate the town library and make it more accessible has become particularly frustrating. For over a month the delay has been caused not by the problem of mitigating the late-discovered PCB contamination, but by malfunction of the newly installed equipment in the renovated HVAC system. And it’s something of a “It’s his fault!” “No, it’s his fault!” situation among separate contractors.

The environment in the building must be in a normal, stable condition before the planned PCB remediation pilot test in the gallery can be undertaken. Preparations for that would involve scraping off the surface coating of the room’s ceiling, cleaning the walls, and replacing the floor tiles. Then the PCB level in the air would be measured. Work was to begin with limited funds available July 1, in the new fiscal year.

But it was reported in the July 13 meeting of the Permanent Building Commission that the new dual air conditioning system in the original building was not working correctly. It was sending cool air to the lower levels and none to the upper. The cause – and just when the condition began – wasn’t clear. Was it a faulty diverter valve installed by Main Enterprises in the ducting? Or one of Aeon’s two coolers in the mechanical room? Progress is slow, in part because any change must be evaluated after a period of stabilization.

At the August Commission meeting, there was also still some discussion of exactly what new epoxy coating would be applied on the scraped ceiling. This “encapsulation” after the old coating removal is to be a “belt-and-suspenders” step for dependable assurance.

How the cost of a full remediation treatment throughout the building would be funded is still not clear. It will not be cheap, and First Selectman Melissa Mack has promised that the money will not come from the Town budget. And plans remain incomplete for necessary work needed to re-open the auditorium and the Historical Room.

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