March 19, 2019

Asbestos delays library reopening

There’s a problem with the Fenton Jack R. Winegarden Library — it’s not open yet.

If all had gone well with upgrades and renovations, the library would have been open by now. All of the planned improvements have been completed, with just a final cleaning needed, according to Library Board Chair Bobbie Sweetman.

But on Monday, Assistant City Manager Mike Burns presented to council the situation with the library. The issue is that there is 586 linear feet of plumbing that is still wrapped in asbestos insulation. That insulation was encapsulated when the library was converted from a post office, but today, that encapsulating wrap around the asbestos has begun to deteriorate. The problem was discovered a few weeks ago.

Burns asked for up to $30,000 to remove the wrap, the asbestos, and rewrap the plumbing. The council agreed unanimously.

Burns guesses the library will be open in late February or early March. The city still has to find contractors for the job, and work with Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

For safety, Sweetman said, “The council did exactly the right thing. The library board is very pleased at how the council responded to the issue.”

She’d rather see the building open to the public again, but is glad they’re thoroughly fixing the problem, instead of just re-wrapping the asbestos pipes. She said once the library is open, residents will love it. “It’s breathtaking to walk in there now. It’s friendlier, it’s very, very clean and bright.”

About the overall project

The library received new paint, plumbing, electrical, shelving and tiling. The overall renovation is being done in two phases, costing $310,000 total before the asbestos issue, and financed by the Downtown Development Authority (DDA).

  Patrons and employees will be able to see the original terrazzo floor at the entrance, new plaster overhead, and all will appreciate upgraded bathrooms and electrical service and new carpeting.

 Two new study rooms will be added, and the children’s library area will be modernized. Shelves are already going up in the children’s area, which also has new paint and carpet.

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Asbestos delays library reopening