Patrons will see big changes in the coming weeks as the 40 year-old main
restrooms at Thomas Library in Chesterton are gutted and expanded to make
them accessible to the handicapped.
The Westchester Public Library Board voted 6-0 Thursday to award the work
contract to Vendramini Construction Inc. of Valparaiso for a maximum
$64,091. The company will pay its employees the prevailing wage.
There was a wide swing in the three other bids, in part due to an alternate
chosen to remove an original dumbwaiter book lift that as far as it’s known
has never been used. Project architect Scott Virtue said the shaft removal
will provide needed downstairs space to expand the restrooms to the north,
and upstairs once the floor is reinforced the Audio-Visual Department will
gain about 35 square feet of space.
Vendramini deducted $1,200 from its $65,291 base bid to remove the book
lift. Other bidders were Tech Kitchen & Bath of Chesterton at $73,538 plus
an additional $6,300 for lift removal; A. Rutzen Builders of Michigan City
at $79,617 plus $7,500 for lift removal; and HP Construction Services Inc.
of Westville at $84,787 less $2,000 for lift removal.
Although the Thomas second-floor restrooms, which also are not handicapped
accessible, will be open during construction, Virtue said WPL director Phil
Baugher wants to minimize the time the main-floor restrooms are out of
service. For that reason work won’t begin until all materials have been
delivered, and initial demolition likely will take place after the library
closes at 9 p.m. so as not to disturb patrons.
The men’s restroom configuration won’t change much, but in the women’s a
baby-changing station now in the hall will be moved inside the restroom for
privacy. The project also includes gaining two utility closets and a storage
area for the WPL maintenance crew.
Without removing the book lift in a vestabule north of the women’s restroom,
Virtue said there was no way to make the restrooms handicapped accessible.
The new lavatories will have hands-free fixtures and dispensers to improve
their cleanliness, and the old fixtures and the book lift will be recycled
to the extent possible.
Library Board member Michele Corazzo, who was recently reappointed by the
Duneland School Board, asked if asbestos might be found during demolition.
“I hope not,” replied Virtue, crossing his fingers.
In other business, the board conducted its annual March reorganization
electing Drew Rhed president, Rick Hokanson vice-president, Corazzo
secretary, Nick Tilden treasurer, Baugher as assistant secretary to sign
documents in Corazzo’s absence, and as assistant treasurer board member
Clair Jolie, who was absent.
Thomas branch librarian Leea Yelich reported WPL circulation increased 2.17
percent through February with 61,958 items circulated. The Overdrive service
on WPL’s website continues to be a popular way to access audiobooks and
WPL operates the Westchester Township History Museum at the Brown Mansion.
Yelich said new museum curator Serena Sutliff’s first exhibit --- a history
of local fire departments --- was a success with approximately 90 people in
attendance opening day.
Yelich also reported that state tax officials have notified WPL its proposed
2012 operating budget was given preliminary approval.
Using individual laptops on loan from the library’s computer classes, the
Library Board spent the first 30 minutes being coached by WPL information
technician Mike Acsbok on how to have a paperless meeting by accessing
specially created Google web pages.