As renovations at the Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library ramp up, the City of Hoquiam and the library are “planning for a closure some time in early October for painting, carpeting and other tasks that would be difficult to complete while in operation,” said Hoquiam city administrator Brian Shay.
As of Wednesday, the city is working on the details of the exact date and length of the closure and will send out a press release when the dates are set, said Shay. On Thursday, library manager Mary Thornton said last she had heard was an early October closure for a total of six weeks; Shay added it could be Oct. 6 but said, “That is still being worked out.”
Despite the large scale of the project, Shay and Thornton were both hopeful initially the library — or at least portions of it — could remain open throughout construction.
The project was funded by a $705,000 State Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Commerce, a $250,000 capital budget appropriation by the Legislature and some $40,000 in grants and donations from local organizations and individuals, said Shay.
The library has been working with groups who use library meeting space to figure out alternative locations during the closure. The Grays Harbor Genealogical Society, which had been displaced by the fire at the Aberdeen Museum of History, has been using an office at the library but had to be vacated ahead of the closure, just as the group had been moving equipment into the space, said Thornton.
The intensive project addresses some of the major problems within the city-owned building at 420 7th St. That includes repairing and/or replacing doors, upgrading hardware, tuck point masonry joints (tuck pointing is the process used to renew the external part of the joints between blocks), applying damp-proofing to protect masonry walls, installing new flooring, drywall and plaster repair, painting, replacing lighting fixtures with much more energy efficient ones, adding duplex receptacles (new double electrical outlets), installing new windows, insulation work and more.
The new lights are 4 watts, while the existing lights are 250, said Thornton. The new lights are smaller, and LED, much more efficient and should save the city substantially on utility costs. Thornton said the new lights give off adequate illumination even after dark.
The meeting room on the lower floor of the museum has become the center of the interior construction effort and will serve as a staging area for crews. Thornton said as items within the library have to be moved to accommodate the work, the meeting room will serve to store much of it, meaning it is likely the last part of the library to be finished. Currently it has had drywall repaired, is getting new paint and storm windows installed. A new carpet will follow there and in the rest of the library.
The doors at the three entrances to the library will also be replaced or repaired. The existing doors are not ADA compliant and the larger, modern mobility devices used these days made them impassable to patrons with limited mobility, said Thornton.
The work is being done by J.A.M. Construction out of Olympia. Shay said the city’s contract calls for construction to be completed within 145 days “from execution, which was on July 9, 2018.”
Some items may not be covered by the grant funds. There are some chairs that appear to be original to the library, which opened in its current 12,761-foot building in 1911, and others purchased after the last remodel, completed in 1991, that Thornton would like to see refurbished and retained if the funds can be secured to do so.
Nothing is wasted, said Thornton. As the library staff reorganizes the layout of the library and goes through some of the collection to decide what to keep, some shelves have come open. Those have gone to the Polson Museum for use as tapestry hangers and document research cabinets. The goal of opening up the floorspace in the library is to make it more inviting to visitors and provide more seating areas, said staff.
Current staff and some equipment and materials will be distributed to other Timberland libraries in the area. “Luckily there is a TRL in Aberdeen for Hoquiam residents to use during the renovation closure,” said Shay.