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Norfolk Town Council to start bidding on library roof replacement

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NORFOLK - The Norfolk Town Council expects to seek bids shortly for work to replace the roof of the Hepburn Library of Norfolk.

Supervisor Charlie A. Pernice stressed that it’s time for the aging roof to be replaced. “They need a new roof. There’s no way around it,” Mr. Pernice said.

Councilman Robert J. Harvey expressed concern that the chimneys may no longer be stable.

“The chimneys are real bad. In a couple years they’ll be falling off,” Mr. Harvey said.

In September, the town council voted to contribute $6,000 toward roof repair work that Library Director Vicky L. Brothers had estimated to cost $7,800. But work crews discovered possible asbestos in the roof shingles, so the project was scaled back to only address the immediate problems with leakage. That work was completed last November.

“I think patching the roof gave us a little time, but the town doesn’t want to dally (on the project). They want to get it done,” Ms. Brothers said. “It’s a beautiful building, and they want to keep it up.”

Mr. Pernice said the town doesn’t plan to test for possible asbestos because he would rather use the estimated $2,000 to $4,000 cost for an asbestos test toward replacing the aging roof. He doesn’t know at this point whether the work will be funded by the town, the library or both.

“We’ve got to start the (bidding) process. Maybe the funding will be a joint effort,” he said. “Worst case scenario is the town fully funds the project.”

Town officials were unable to provide any estimates for price or timetable for the project, saying it is too early in the process.

Ms. Brothers alluded to the project being fairly long and time-consuming. “It’s a big building. It’ll be a project,” she said.

She noted the building was constructed in 1921. She does not believe the library will have to close for the repairs to be made.

Council members discussed the possibility of applying for grant funding through the state, but Mr. Pernice said the large number of requirements that come with state grants would offset the benefit of receiving that money.

Ms. Brothers noted that utilizing state or federal funding would require the library to go through state and federal historic preservation offices because the library is listed as a historic building. This would require library and town officials to contact the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which would instruct them on what actions they’d be allowed to take to address the roof’s structural issues, according to Ms. Brothers.

“We’ll go through all the little hoops as we come to them,” she said.

Ms. Brothers said the state’s historic preservation office was very involved in a 2006 project to provide handicap access to the library because that project was funded by a state grant. Ms. Brothers was unsure how involved the state will be in this project because the town plans to fund the project without the use of state or federal grant money.

William Karrington, a spokesman for the state’s historic preservation office, said any library that receives federal or state money - either for maintenance or operation - is subject to state and federal requirements on any possible alterations to the building. The library receives funding from the state through the North Country Library System, Ms. Brothers said.

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