Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Looking for One More Nice Day

The roof replacement project is not quite done. The flat roof has been completely replaced and sealed. However, the final pieces of the project - flashings and the door jab and trim for the access door leading out onto the roof. While it cannot be seen from street level, you'll know its done when the construction dumpster leaves the Library's parking lot, re-opening all of the spaces for use.

Our protesters did not stay long, only about 5 hours total. Our rat hand puppet from the Youth Services storytime supplies did come to visit his larger inflatable rat brethren during his stay, sitting in the window of my office.

During tonight's meeting of the Board of Trustees, the replacement of windows in the Original Library will be considered. We have proposals from several window vendors. Replacement is needed only for seven windows in the Original Library. With the Original Library likely to remain in any future expansion, the replacement of those windows is appropriate as a long term solution. The remainder can be repaired and resealed, with only a few replacement parts needed. This is good news and will keep costs down, while addressing the problem areas.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Roof Replacement Contractor and the Rat

Today, there is an inflatable rat in front of the Library. He and his friends arrived this morning. They are exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech by picketing the contractor selected to perform the Library's roof replacement. You may have seen our rat’s big brother on Route 59 near Renwick Road yesterday for a similar protest on the road construction contractor.

According to Illinois law, public bodies (libraries, Villages, park districts, the State itself, et al) must go through a public bid process for construction projects and comply with the Prevailing Wage Act. The threshold for public bid varies by type of public body. For library districts, the threshold is projects over $20,000. Prevailing Wage is determined by the Illinois Department of Labor.

The roof replacement contract was publicly bid. Thirteen bids were received. National Roofing was the lowest qualified bidder for the base bid plus alternate 1. In order to be disqualified from bidding on public projects, a contractor has to have been found in violation of the Prevailing Wage Act twice within five years. National Roofing has one violation on file with the Department of Labor from 2008. This contractor is NOT excluded from receiving public contracts at this time, so there was no reason to disqualify them as bidders. According to the contract they signed, they must pay Prevailing Wage on this job, in compliance with the Prevailing Wage Act. This was reiterated to National Roofing at the pre-construction meeting.

The Library and its contractor have followed all of the rules and laws about the bidding process and Prevailing Wage requirements. Our project manager will be checking to ensure that Prevailing Wage is paid on this job. That’s all we can do with any contract or contractor.

Further information about Prevailing Wage can be found at

A copy of the violation notice received by National Roofing, clearly stating that it was a first violation, can be found here:

As ardent supporters of free speech, librarians would be the last people to say someone can't stage a protest. We respect their right to express their opinions, just as we hope they will respect the rights of patrons to use the library unimpeded.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Roof Replacement Project to Begin Tuesday, November 10!

Tomorrow is the day!

The roof replacement project is slated to begin. You will not be able to view the actual work being done, as it is the interior pitched and flat roof being replaced. These are not visible from ground level. During the project, the parking spaces closest to the building will not be available for use, with the exception of the two handicapped spaces. A project dumpster will be located on the closed spaces, as well as providing space for the crane that will be needed to move the roofing material on the flat portion of the roof.

One recent question I received regarding the roof replacement project is that the building is just under 20 years old - and shingle should last 25 years. That is true. However, a significant portion of the Library's roof is flat. It can be seen in aerial views of the Library, such as satellite images of the downtown area. Housed on this flat area are the four HVAC units that cool the Library building, which is why it is screened from view. Expected to last 15-20 years, this flat roof is just shy of its 19th birthday, installed in late 1990.

Given the lovely weather we've been experiencing, we hope that the project will be complete in approximately five working days.

Apologies in advance for any inconvenience caused by the project. Your patience and cooperation is appreciated!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Parking Question

There's been a lot of speculation recently about the concept plans for the northwest corner of Lockport Street and Route 59. That corner lot is adjacent to the Route 59 parking lot, currently owned by the Village and contracted for purchase by the Library next year. Which brings us to the issue of parking.

Parking is a pivotal issue for any business in the downtown and particularly so for the Library.
The way the Village ordinances allow businesses to count parking in the downtown, all parking within 150' of the business' front door is counted, regardless of who owns it. This means that the spaces in the Route 59 parking lot could conceivably be counted by the proposed new office building on the corner, the Library, Plymouth Congregational Church, Baci, Tawny Tortoise - every business along Lockport Street. The point is, one parking space counted as parking for half a dozen different businesses is still a single parking space. The pressure on the downtown parking lots is increased as Library use continues to grow - averaging 10% more visits each year for the last five.

With the acquisition of the Route 59 parking lot, the Library will own a majority of the parking on the block. Being good neighbors is of utmost importance to the Library Board. The Library's parking lots will remain public for the foreseeable future, with the exception of designating some staff spaces. The Library will work with the Village and our neighbors to ensure that any changes to the parking lots balance the needs of the Library, the needs of our neighbors, and the commitment of the Village to provide public parking. That balance is not easy, or simple to achieve. But the Library Board's mantra is to be good stewards of the taxpayers' dollars and do the best we can with what we have. Finding that perfect solution may take some time, but I am confident that we can work together to get there.