On August 30, 2017

Library ceiling collapse raises issue of payment

RUTLAND—The Rutland Free Library’s main public meeting space, the Nella Grimm Fox Room, is closed to all public use until further notice, according to a new release Friday, Aug. 25.

A portion of the ceiling collapsed on Wednesday, Aug. 16, and subsequent testing revealed a small amount of asbestos in the debris. Glue used in 1966 to affix acoustic ceiling tiles to the original plaster-and-lath ceiling contains 2.3 percent chrysotile or “white asbestos.” The test, performed by KD Associates of South Burlington, showed no hazardous materials in the plaster or tiles themselves.

Library Director Randal Smathers announced that despite the small amount of asbestos, this will require full abatement during repairs to ensure the room is safe once the work is done. Smathers said he is gathering information on the comparative costs of the abatement, patching the roughly 50 square feet of damaged ceiling and redoing the entire ceiling.

Community groups with events planned through the end of October have been warned to find alternative spaces. A few of the groups displaced by the closure are able to use a smaller meeting space in the building and the library is working with the remainder to find alternatives.

The building at 10 Court St. is a city property, originally constructed in 1858-59 as a courthouse and post office, and has been home to the library since 1935. No formal lease exists, so it is unclear who will be responsible for the repairs. The building is insured but because the damage did not come from a single event like a storm or water leak, it is unclear whether the policy will provide any coverage.

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