By Philip Haldiman
Drivers who frequent downtown Peoria have probably seen the city’s main library, currently in construction mode, with streams of scaffolding wrapped around the exterior.
It is undergoing work to replace and rehabilitate the roof. However, workers recently came across an unexpected find in their efforts to improve the building 8463 W. Monroe St.
Architectural services manager Ed Striffler said they found damage caused by years of pigeon roosting on the metal ledges beneath the roof soffits. In addition, many of the window sealants at the upper windows are substantially deteriorated by the sun. However, staff has worked with the contractor and subcontractor to quickly remedy the problem.
Mr. Striffler said the costs will exceed the contingency amounts planned, so the city council recently approved about $50,000 to re-engineer/replace the current metal ledge with a new roost-proof ledge and mitigate bird damage, extend the scaffold rental period, as well as replace sun damaged window seals all the way around the library.
The roof is expected to be completed in August as planned, he said.
“We have an appreciable amount of damage in the under eave area and metalwork associated with the roosting of pigeons. Their visitation over the last 25 years has left their mark, literally, and deteriorated much of the metal,” Mr. Striffler said. “So we are using this opportunity while we have made the investment in the scaffolding to make a design change fundamentally of that detail. The average person won’t see the difference, but it will prevent our pigeon friends from roosting any further.”
A $1.24 million investment approved for the Fiscal Year 2018-19 budget included $958,000 for the roof improvements, $57,000 in building HVAC system repairs and $76,000 for a library strategic plan to guide its future. The plan could be considered by City Council in August or September.
Mr. Striffler said the building’s roof had reached the end of its 25-year life cycle.
“Red colored tile glazing (coating) and the red metal gutters had deteriorated and began to cause staining of the white building masonry and damage to the deep roof overhang soffits,” he said. “We needed to tackle the entirety of the problem in one coordinated effort since all of the pieces are interconnected from a water management standpoint.”
Additionally, he said, it was important to avoid the possibility of a library flood like the one last year at Phoenix’s Burton Barr Central Library that caused an estimated $10 million in damages, according to reports.
“To avoid a repeat performance of a much larger city, we chose to make investments to avoid any disruptions of future library services,” Mr. Striffler said.
In Fiscal Year 2017-18 council approved a budget that included $166,000 to invest in furnishings and a building condition assessment for the library.
“The library has transcended beyond its old early 1990s look into something a little more hip and a little more comfortable for our library patrons,” he said. “The goal (of the assessment) was to better understand from a staff perspective what we were headed into in terms of building systems improvements so we might better undertake them based on the magnitude.”
Looking forward, the city has about $2.99 million budgeted for library interior improvements in Fiscal Year budgets 2019-2021.
Councilwoman Vicki Hunt thanked staff for being proactive and the council for advancing funds for the roof upgrade.
“We don’t want a repeat of the city to the east and that was caused by delayed maintenance. We are not going to have that problem because we are doing the maintenance now that has been much, much needed for a very well used library. If we were to encounter something like that it would put a lot of people out of a place to recreate and to educate,” she said.