Li­brary of­fi­cials hope re­pair costs low

Dam­age to leak­ing roof could go be­yond $200,000 bud­get

The Covington News - - THE SECOND FRONT - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­

The Cov­ing­ton Branch Li­brary’s roof and par­tic­u­larly its heat­ing and air-conditioning units are in bad shape, and li­brary of­fi­cials are go­ing to find out just how bad.

The New­ton County Li­brary Sys­tem Board of Trus­tees voted at Thurs­day’s called meet­ing to hire At­lanta-based The Ar­chi­tec­ture Group to in­spect the build­ing’s sys­tems, learn what needs to be done and bid those projects out for con­struc­tion.

The ini­tial anal­y­sis will cost $30,860, with the ma­jor­ity go­ing to test the HVAC (heat­ing, ven­ti­la­tion and air conditioning) sys­tem to see how it’s per­form­ing.

The roof is ac­tively leak­ing, but of­fi­cials are hope­ful the fix will be sim­ple; they have a bud­get of $200,000, in­clud­ing a $100,000 state grant. The main con­cern is that once the as­phalt shin­gles are pulled up, there may be more dam­age to the rest of roof than pre­vi­ously ex­pected.

How­ever, the HVAC sys­tem is a mix­ture of dif­fer­ent sys­tems that have been re­paired and re­placed over the years — at times in­cor­rectly, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cials — and still in­cludes an air-conditioning unit and boiler that don’t work.

A pre­vi­ous re­port com­pleted by ar­chi­tec­ture firm Craig, Gaulden and Davis said the build­ing’s boiler needs to be re­placed im­me­di­ately at an es­ti­mated cost of $67,000, in ad­di­tion to re­pair­ing the build­ing’s chillers and eval­u­at­ing and, if needed, re­pair­ing the con­trol sys­tem.

Dur­ing their pre­sen­ta­tion, Ar­chi­tec­ture Group of­fi­cials rec­om­mended re­plac­ing the whole sys­tem, but ac­knowl­edged that may not be pos­si­ble with the cur­rent bud­get.

The li­brary is set­ting aside an­other $200,000 to $250,000 for HVAC re­pairs, but won’t have an idea of the to­tal cost un­til af­ter The Ar­chi­tec­ture Group com­pletes its work.

The analy­ses will be done by ex­pert firms hired by The Ar­chi­tec­ture Group, along with ar­chi­tec­ture em­ploy­ees.

Ma­con-based NBP Engi­neers will look at the HVAC sys­tem. En­gi­neer Tim Trot­ter said one goal will be to get a more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient sys­tem in the build­ing to re­duce fu­ture op­er­at­ing costs, as well as a sys­tem that re­quires less main­te­nance.

The cur­rent ab­sorp­tion chillers are more ex­pen­sive to main­tain, and fewer re­pair pro­fes­sion­als are qual­i­fied to work on them, of­fi­cials said; they can also be more dif­fi­cult to op­er­ate.

One dis­turb­ing de­tail found by The Ar­chi­tec­ture Group’s ini­tial in­spec­tion was that there is very lit­tle in­su­la­tion in the at­tic area, with none above the light fix­tures and none at the roof life, said ar­chi­tect Mack Cunningham.

Firm founder Roberta Unger said one of the first steps should be to in­su­late the build­ing from the in­side, which would cost around $40,000 to $60,000. She said build­ings con­structed 15 years ago of­ten don’t have as much in­su­la­tion as is cus­tom­ary to­day, be­cause peo­ple at that time weren’t as fo­cused on that as­pect of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

Board Vice Chair Lois Upham said af­ter the meet­ing that the board is try­ing to be as fis­cally re­spon­si­ble as pos­si­ble, which is why it is hav­ing the analy­ses done first be­fore de­cid­ing on any other re­pairs and spend­ing any ad­di­tional money.

The roof and HVAC re­pairs will be pub­licly bid out at a later time.

Gabriel Khouli /The Cov­ing­ton News

A photo from ear­lier this year shows one of the 39 dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions in­side and out­side of the li­brary with vis­i­ble wa­ter dam­age, along with an­other 18 vis­i­ble spots on the roof.

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