Timeline of Damage

•1988 – Groundbreaking for library addition.

•1989 – Addition completed by RCL Builders.

•1991 – Windows leak.

•1991 – RCL Builders install insulation because of moisture problems.

•1993 – Books wet after roof leaks during winter. RCL crew shovels snow from roof.

•1996 – Window problems. Estimated repair costs: $25,000.

•1996 – Skylight repaired.

•1997 – More skylight problems.

•2002 – East side windows and skylight leaking.

•2005 – Skylights leaking.

•2006 – More leaking.

•2007 – More leaking.

Source: Library Director Karen Valley

The Westbrook City Council has decided to request bids to fix a leaking roof and windows at the library, a project that’s estimated to cost nearly $1 million.

City councilors voted unanimously to request bids for the repairs at their meeting Monday, after members of the Facilities and Streets Committee met at the library July 16 to check out the damage.

The library presented the committee an estimated cost of $989,000 to fix the problems and make some upgrades. The city expects to bond the project.

City Councilor John O’Hara said at the meeting Monday a library “is one of the greatest assets a community can have.” He said he fully supported the project and upgrades, but was concerned that the cost was being presented as just a solution to a leaking roof.

The estimate included the necessary exterior work to stop the leaking and the costs of replacing the water-damaged ceiling tiles, sheet rock and carpeting. It also included replacing the existing light fixtures with more efficient fixtures and some countertop work.

The city is hoping for a start date in September for construction, and estimates the project will take six to eight weeks. The library would be closed during the construction.

In addition to the the $989,000 estimate to fix the leaking 1989 building addition, known as “Plan A,” the library also presented to the committee estimates on a “Plan B” and a “Plan C.” City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the extra estimates were simply for informational purposes to make it clear that while the library is asking for nearly $1 million for repairs now, it will be going back to the city at a later date to get money for more projects.

Plan B includes first-floor upgrades in both the addition and original Walker Memorial Building for $80,000, and Plan C includes historic restoration of the original building, estimated at $1.2 million. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Robert Howe of HKTA Architects, the consulting firm hired to help the library identify problems with the addition, said at Monday’s council meeting that the original skylights were installed in an inappropriate manner because they are flat with the roof. As a part of the repair project, the skylights would likely be raised up from the roof to allow a seal to be made around them.

The existing metal roof needs to be replaced with asphalt shingles to keep water from leaking in where the sloped roof meets the flat roof, according to Howe. The windows, which are wood framed with a bead of caulking, need to be replaced with aluminum windows. Howe also said that while the roof is being fixed, more insulation should be installed to meet up-to-date energy-efficiency standards.

A study completed last week by Northeast Test Consultants also found some mold in the walls of the building. Allan Bickford, director of buildings and grounds for the school department, told the council on Monday that the mold posed no danger to the public. Bryant described the mold as “modest,” given the time the building was exposed to water damage. It will cost a little more than $5,000 to remove, according to Bickford.

Bryant said prospective contractors for the project will be pre-qualified to avoid any low-ball bidders who may not have an established reputation in the area. The contractor for the addition to the library that is in disrepair was, Bryant said, apparently based in Canada, with an American arm that went bankrupt not long after the addition was completed.

According to Karen Valley, the library’s director, records indicate that leaking rain was a problem in the 1989 addition as early as 1991.

The city is looking into the details to see whether there is any legal action to be pursued, but Councilor President Brendan Rielly has said that it looks like any possible recourse has long passed by.

It is expected that a certain amount of interest payments on the library’s Flu will be able to defray the cost of the bonding, according to the city administration’s position paper submitted to the city council. The administration is also recommending an increase in building permit fees to help defray the cost. Anywhere from 26 percent to 58 percent of the annual payments on the bond could be covered by the two revenues.

Bryant told the city council on Monday that the current city debt is just under $40 million. With the addition of the new middle school and library projects, that debt would hit about $76.5 million. The city’s debt limit is about $182 million.

Westbrook’s Walker Memorial Library is expected to come across a little extra care this fall to fix its leaking roof. On Monday he city council resolved to send out a request for bids to fix the roof, which is estimated to cost nearly $1 million. The project will be bonded.


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