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Pages turning on Fergus library restoration

Exact measurements  - Jason Plumb, site supervisor for TRP Construction, checks over a cement pour designed to keep the rear addition to the Fergus library level with the floor coming out from the original building.   photos by Kris Svela

Pages turning on Fergus library restoration

by Kris Svela

 It will be months before the refurbished library here re-opens, but the changes taking place inside and outside the Carnegie library are moving along.

Work got underway recently which will see the building gutted, an elevator installed, a glassed-in addition built at the back and heritage work done to the front.

The building is owned and operated by Wellington County. With a county council approved refurbishing budget of $5 million, the new facility if set to re-open next November.

In August TRP Construction of Burlington was awarded the contract to do the work, at a tender price of $3.5 million.

The plan was the focus of considerable opposition over fears the expanded facility was too expensive, the work was unnecessary, it would eliminate parking spaces, would involve removal of hazardous soil and the elimination of a laneway at the rear used for deliveries to adjacent businesses on St. Andrew Street.

The criticism was levied at several public meetings.

However, there was also strong support for the plan, spearheaded by executive of the downtown  Business Improvement Area (BIA) and residents living in and around the business core.

Chief Librarian Murray McCabe said he was surprised by the opposition to the plan.

“From a business point of view, when you’ve had a service for over 100 years, how can you believe it’s a gamble?” McCabe said of opposition to the building being refurbished at its current location.

He contends the building, when completed, will augment businesses and events downtown with the large windows facing the street giving library patrons a view of what is taking place without having to deal with the outside elements. The same, according to McCabe, holds true for the glassed-in rear extension overlooking the park and river.

“You can sit in the library and see any event by the river or on main street.”

The expansion will triple the size of the library from 5,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet with a third of the space designated for children’s activities.

The elevator will allow full accessibility to the building and its three floors, a requirement under provincial legislation.

The project will also increase space for staff and include a room for community groups to hold meetings, in addition to regular library services. A room at the front of the building will become a historical reading section with furniture capturing the library’s early history.

 A fireplace, long since buried by other renovations, has been uncovered and will be put into service again.

“The masonry guys said the stone chimney is in good shape,” McCabe said during a tour of the site.

The chief librarian said the original tin ceiling, concealed by a drop ceiling, couldn’t be salvaged due to disrepair.

“It had all sorts of nail holes,” McCabe said.

The historical aspect of the front wall is also being restored, with the re-opening of windows that have been sealed shut at the ground level for years, and a wheelchair ramp will also be installed.

“I think this will be terrific when it is completed,” McCabe added. “It’s going to be like day and night.”

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Vol 46 Issue 47

November 22, 2013

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