Following delays, old library renovation nears completion

A chance measurement of the slope of the newly installed ramp at the old library last week revealed that it was over the 8.3% limit dictated by Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines. Building Inspector Gabe Vellente had been asked to come to the site to check the sidewalk, and he happened to have his gradient level, a level that measures slope, with him. Luckily he decided to check the slope of the ramp and found that it was 9%. The ramp will have to be adjusted to meet code before the concrete is poured for the walkway and landings.

At its meeting July 2, the Old Library Accessibility Committee thought the bottom of the ramp would have to be raised, which would require adjustments along the length of the winding walkway that leads to it. The walkway also has slope requirements that must be met so handrails are not required.

But when the committee met with the contractor after its meeting, he explained that the ramp installer thought the angle irons at the top section of the ramp could probably be lowered enough to get the ramp to code. If that works, it will be fixed by July 5, and concrete could be poured July 8.

July 8 is scheduled to be the final date of the project, but the committee said that date obviously won’t be met. Railings still need to be installed on the entrance stairs, tiles need to be installed in the entryway, and the punch list has various odds and ends that need to be completed.

The entryway tiles may take a while because the committee is still waiting for estimates on those. The plans called for reuse of the old tiles that were uncovered when the entryway carpeting was taken up. But on closer inspection there were too many damaged tiles for that plan to work, so the entryway will contain a background of new tiles with a pattern of old tiles. Committee Chair Lucy Wallace said it’s possible the tiles could be installed by a local firm after the contractor leaves, but the front entrance would likely not be usable until the tiles are in.

Member Mark Mikitarian said if the project isn’t finished by the first weekend in August, he would like the site to be cordoned off to keep skateboard festival participants off the ramp, which could be a magnet for them. Wallace said she thought officials would approve of that since it would be a liability to the town. Mikitarian quipped, “Especially if they don’t fix the slope by then.”

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