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Village Vision News

Library to close for renovations

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Years-long project nears completion

In her job description, Forsyth Public Library Director Rachel Miller doesn’t likely have anything in common with someone performing the tasks of a general contractor. Given what she and her staff and the building itself have been through over the course of the last few years, it may be time to fine-tune that document.

Miller has orchestrated the crucial sequencing of a major renovation project at the library that dates back to 2012. All along the way, she has kept Village Hall, the mayor and trustees apprised of the progress and offered a regular heads up regarding what was coming next.

She learned early on that the process would require a staging sequence that would be imperative to carefully plan out and follow. For example, new carpeting couldn’t be put in until the windows were done. Sounds like a general contractor’s way of thinking, doesn’t it?

“We kind of found our way,” is how she modestly described the task she found herself taking on.

Librarian Rachel Miller
Forsyth Public Library Director Rachel Miller has found herself in the role of general contractor as the library has undergone dramatic and much-needed renovations.

Miller is quick to acknowledge others for their sacrifices, calling it “a learning experience, for sure,” and adding that her staff deserves a lot of credit, as do Public Works Director Larry Coloni and the staff at Village Hall, she said.

Village Administrator David Strohl deflects Miller’s compliments right back to her.

“She’s done an excellent job,” Strohl said. “It’s a project with a lot of moving parts. I’m sure there was a lot of it that came up that was outside her comfort zone. She’s stepped up to the plate and done a great job.”

This final phase — new carpeting and a new coat of paint — calls for the library to be closed from Monday, Feb. 23 through Saturday, March 14, something Miller does not take lightly.

“We understand that having the library closed is a hardship,” Miller said. “We know our public will miss us, but it’s the best way to get the project done in a safe way. It should be three weeks our contractor thinks.

“The timing of this is good because we’ll be open for summer reading, which we’re planning already.”

Miller has described the project in its entirety as coming in three parts, beginning with floor issues.

“We kind of got thrown into it because of structural issues with our floor,” she said. “We realized that it was something that needed to be taken care of immediately. We had a structural engineer come in and look at it. The floor was where it all began.”

Part 2, which involved the windows, really had two stages to it. First there was one window that had to be checked out to determine what kind of problems might be involved with the rest of the windows. Turned out there were moisture and mold issues.

And now, Part 3 — new carpet and fresh paint — brings everything back home again.

Technically, there’s a Part 4 to the project since shelving had to be moved for Parts 1 and 3, and in the end, book stacks will be moved back to where they were before the project was started. One of the greatest challenges, Miller said, was moving all the book stacks, but she said the library will have a “much more user-friendly flow.”

“It’ll look familiar to folks who used the library three years ago,” she said. “Particularly the children’s area, which was compromised while the floor was fixed. The magazine area should be more open and sort of a gathering area; now it’s very closed off. But it won’t be cut off anymore.”

Funding for the project came from a $200,000 grant from the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity that Miller applied for and shepherded through. The two-year DCEO grant had to be extended, not unusual for such a project, due to mold remediation and some construction delays.

Miller thinks the public will be pleased with the end result. She said plans are in the works for an open house to celebrate. She said details will follow and will be posted on the library’s website and Facebook page.

Like any worthy contractor, or public servant, Miller was looking down the road to the years ahead. She didn’t want the building she cares so much about to deteriorate further.

“This’ll make it a good building and a safe building for the future,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that we were good stewards of public property.”

Mission accomplished. 

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