Thursday, September 24, 2009

Old Building, New Problems

Along with all of the interior changes to shelving and space use, Trustees and staff have also been assessing the condition of the building and its systems with an eye to keeping it functional for another 3-5 years before renovating or expanding. In your November/December Library newsletter, the cover article will be on this very topic.

The building is old, fast approaching its 20th year. It is a well-used public building, meaning that it gets significant wear-and-tear. It also has some quirks. Take the HVAC system for example. For some reason unknown to me or any Trustee/staff member who was here at the time, the rooftop air conditioning unit added when the lower level was built out in 1996 is a model designed for the Canadian market, making it difficult to obtain parts when needed. Another example: rubber membrane roofing was used to cover the sides of the gable for the roof access door, like siding. Not a standard use of the product, by any means.

Overall, the age of the building means that all of the systems with 15-20 years expected service lives are no longer as reliable as they once were. Things are starting to break down. You may remember our recurring elevator issues this summer or the roof leaks from the spring. The roofing issues are more immediate now, as they are increasing over time. Look for a roof repair and replacement project going to bid in early October.

This project will repair damaged portions of the shingled roof and entirely replace the rubber membrane portion, plus the decking and insulation beneath that portion. About one third of the Library's roof is flat, though it cannot be seen from street level. Four rooftop air conditioning units and the skylight over the main stairwell are hidden from view by the pitched, shingled portions of the roof.

Funds for the roof repair and replacement will come from the Library's only capital and emergency fund: the Special Reserve Fund. With sources of income for this fund being transfers in from the General (aka Operating) Fund and Developer's Annexation Fees, which are collected through an intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Plainfield, its income has dropped sharply. In FY2006, over $244,000 was collected from those fees. In FY2009, it was just over $13,000. Special Reserve Funds were used to purchase the property at 15022 S. Division Street during FY2009 and will be used to complete the contracted purchase of the Route 59 parking lot in 2010. Today's Special Reserve Fund balance is $600,000, which includes the earmarked funds for that contracted purchase and the roof repair and replacement.

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