Repairs, renovations due at local libraries

John Ruch

Connolly to close for 2 weeks

The Connolly Branch Library will close for two weeks beginning May 5 so that its perpetually leaky roof can be permanently fixed.

Meanwhile, the long-stalled renovation and expansion of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library are back on track, as the city this week issued a call for architects to bid on design rights, according to city and Boston Public Library (BPL) officials.

“Good things happen to those who wait,” said local City Councilor John Tobin, praising the upcoming work. “The library patrons of Jamaica Plain have been very patient—extremely so.”

The historic Connolly Branch at 433 Centre St. has suffered multiple major leaks since a new roof was installed less than four years ago. A cracked drain recently was pinpointed as the problem. The drain, roof and ceiling now will be repaired by the original installer, Walker Industry, according to BPL branch libraries chief Carol Mahoney.

Fran Streeter, co-chair of Friends of the Connolly Branch Library, told the Gazette that using the original contractor who installed the leaky roof is a concern. “We just wanted to make sure it’s done right,” she said.

Mahoney said that Walker is doing the work because the roof is still under warranty.

The Connolly will close May 5 for the work and reopen on May 19 at the normal noon hour.

Half of that time will be spent cleaning the interior and testing it for any harmful substances, Mahoney said. Mold or chemicals have been concerns for some branch librarians, who have temporarily moved to other branches.

Mahoney said that signs announcing the closure will be placed in the library’s windows and on the fence out front. Checked-out items will not be due during the closure. Reserve items may be picked up during that time at the JP Branch at 12 Sedgwick St. in central JP.

The JP Branch has had leaks of its own, among other problems. The renovation and expansion work is still years away, but the design process should begin this summer. Planning stalled for more than a year in part because of a larger political feud between Mayor Thomas Menino and BPL president Bernard Margolis. Tobin successfully pushed for the project to remain in the city budget.

Mahoney said the BPL expects a committee that includes local library advocates to select an architect for the JP Branch project around June.

Don Haber, co-chair of Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library, said his group is “thrilled” that planning is moving forward in an e-mail to the Gazette.

“We’re hoping that the renovation/expansion can be completed by July 2011—in time to celebrate the centennial of the current library building,” Haber said.

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