Chesterton Tribune

Library Demolition yields surprises boosts Thomas project cost

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The cost of the ongoing renovation of two Thomas Library restrooms jumped by $19,603 Thursday after the contractor and architect described unexpected conditions discovered upon demolition.

Contractor Tony Vendramin of Vendramini Construction Inc. said it should have taken about six hours to tear down the restroom walls, but it took 20 hours after metal trusses covered with expanded mesh and thick plaster were found instead of wood studs and wallboard.

The debris removed weighed 16 tons and cost three times the usual amount to dispose, Vendramin continued, and when the metal trusses were cut out it left a gutter around the outside of the floor that has to be filled in.

Architect Scott Virtue said he has never come across such unusual construction, and it wasn’t shown on the Thomas building drawings from 1973. The perimeter of both the lower-level men’s and women’s restrooms had to be restudded, but that will allow for better soundproofing, added Virtue.

A second unexpected development proved to be the book elevator removed from the north side of the women’s restroom so it could be expanded; the elevator was welded together and had to be cut out in pieces, but Vendramin said he wasn’t asking for additional funds to cover the extra time involved.

“There won’t be any more surprises?” asked Westchester Public Library Board member Michele Corazzo. Vendramin said no. “I think everything else now should be pretty smooth sailing from here on out.”

Library director Phil Baugher said it’s fair to allow additional time and compensation for Vendramin to complete his contract in light of the challenges encountered.

The original bid award for the renovation, which will upgrade both restrooms making them handicapped-accessible, was $64,091. The Library Board voted 7-0 to approve change-orders of $425 more for Virtue to revise his plans and $19,603 more for Vendramini Construction.

WPL attorney Terry Hiestand said the firm is doing a good job keeping the work site sealed and dust-free. A second-floor Thomas restroom is available during construction.

E-reader pilot program

Baugher reported 10 Nook e-readers are being loaded with best-selling books and other titles as a pilot lending program. Patrons will be able to keep the readers for up to two weeks, and it will cost them $120 if the reader is lost or ruined.

Lending will be limited to adults at this time, and e-readers should not be returned in the book drop-box.

Each time a reader is returned it will be wiped clean and reloaded. Thomas branch librarian Leea Yelich and WPL information technology manager Mike Acsbok were authorized Thursday to use a library credit card to buy e-sources for loading on electronic devices with a limit of $5,000 in purchases.

Baugher warned that if an e-reader is found to have additional downloads or is otherwise tampered with, that is grounds for patrons to lose their lending privileges.

If the pilot program is successful, WPL will purchase more readers to loan. “We’re going to see how it goes. A lot of libraries are doing this. It’s the wave of the future,” Baugher explained.

Money up, circulation down

Baugher said unlike many other local units of government, WPL’s finances remain strong with $6,792,461 in all funds and investments. “We’re very, very fortunate and very blessed with the financial situation of this library right now.”

After gains earlier this year, circulation dropped in March by 8 percent at Thomas and 4 percent at Hageman Library in Porter although system-wide for 2012 circulation is up 1.38 percent over last year. Chilton automotive and Overdrive links on the WPL website saw sharp increases in March while use of public computers at both Thomas and Hageman fell.

WPL has 11,202 active borrowers who live in Westchester Township (10,343 last year) and 4,581 active non-resident borrowers.

Baugher commended the job new curator Serena Sutliff is doing at the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum. Three of four March performance markers including visitor count were up.

The museum’s value, said Baugher, is “a sense of place and of home. It’s so important in this world today.”

On another matter, Baugher said timbers are being delivered so raised planting beds can be constructed at Hageman for a community garden and youth horticulture programs.

It also was announced the popular spring Friends of the Library book sale will take place April 20-22.

The Library Board approved hiring part-time clerk Sandra King in Technical Services, and Baugher announced Darla Block will be retiring as head of Technical Services having served WPL since 1981. An open house in her honor is planned next month.

Baugher also thanked library employees for stepping up during his recent medical leave and following injuries to three other staffers. “I’m really, really pleased how our staff cooperated and worked together in our absence."


Posted 4/14/2012