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Library prepares for projects

Funds won’t cover all the repairs needed

November 20, 2008
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS/ The Leader-Herald

GLOVERSVILLE - Over the next few months and years, the Gloversville Public Library will undergo some drastic changes, library officials said this week.

After receiving the green light from the Common Council last week, library Director Barbara Madonna hired Steven E. Smith, a local engineer, to conduct a $10,000 study of the library's basement and its severe water problem. After the $10,000 is spent, it is doubtful the funds left in the library's capital project fund - about $20,000 - will be enough to cover every bit of repair and preventive maintenance, Smith said today.

The library's fund is provided by the city.

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Kayleigh Karutis

Repairs to the basement of the Gloversville Public Library, pictured this morning, are expected to begin in the spring.

"The cost [of the project] will probably exceed the money the library has to spend," he said. "We will just do the parts [of the basement] that are wet, and we'll leave the parts that are dry and hope for the best."

Madonna made several pleas to the Common Council to allow her to use $10,000 to study the problem and plan a solution. She said without the fix, the building could deteriorate to the point of no return.

Smith said a variety of factors could have contributed to the water problem, but those factors don't matter. What matters is making sure no further damage is done, he said. He said he will use a technique he recently used at Fulton-Montgomery Community College to waterproof the basement. The method involves placing a thin layer of expanding clay on the walls of the leaking basement. When water touches the clay, it will expand and form a waterproof barrier, preventing water from leaking through.

Madonna said if the $20,000 left isn't enough to cover the cost of the repairs, the library will have to make do with what it has.

"[Maintaining the building] really is the city's responsibility," she said. "At the same time, if they won't do anything, we can't let the building fall apart. It is what it is. We'll just keep putting one foot in front of the other trying to do what's best for the community."

Work on the library's basement cannot start until the spring, Smith said. Trying to fix the problem while digging through frozen ground would create an added expense, plus the clay needs a certain level of warmth in order to set properly, he said.

While the library only has about $30,000 to study the problem and make as many repairs as fiscally possible, another area of the library's budget - about $68,000 of it - has been earmarked to redesign the building's historically inaccurate vestibule and revamp the library's interior.

Madonna said the vestibule was created in the 1970s and leaks hot air "like a sieve."

The library will use a combination of state grant money and money from fundraising efforts and the library's fund balance to redesign and rebuild the vestibule and paint the library's interior.

Madonna said state Sen. Hugh T. Farley, R-Niskayuna, secured about $20,000, and fundraising has generated about $22,000. The library will use about $25,000 of its own funds to pay for the projects.

The money the library has set aside for the vestibule and renovations cannot be used for the basement's moisture problem due to stipulations in the grant and legal obligations.

"The grant states it can't be used for maintenance and repair," Madonna said.

Maintenance and repair projects, she said, are supposed to be covered by the city, according to the library's lease with the city.

At a board meeting Tuesday, library officials met with county Planning Department Director James Mraz, who presented the library with tips to best move forward with its upcoming capital project.

"Proposals have already been sent out to architects," Madonna said. "We're hoping to get moving toward this long process of renovating the building. It's very confusing but also an interesting challenge."

Mraz said the presentation went well and the library is off to a good start.

"It's a very healthy process," he said. "We discussed what the capital project entails, [such as] getting cost proposals, interviews ... how to make the best decision."

Mraz said the library and the engineers and architects it hires will likely solicit comments from the public and elected officials on how to best spend the money.

"It will give the patrons the opportunity to say, 'here's what we think,'" he said.

While library officials and others involved in the capital project process are excited about the prospect of renovating the building, that excitement must be tempered by a hard look at the numbers, Mraz said.

"This process produces visions and plans that are healthy [for the library], but they will have to be balanced by the fiscal reality," he said. "You have to figure out what you can do with what you have."

Kayleigh Karutis covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at



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