Kingston Frontenac Public Library main branch now expected to reopen this summer
Kingston’s multimillion-dollar renovation of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library’s main branch on Johnson Street is several months behind schedule.
Originally expected to be completed this spring, the main branch won’t be open to the public until later this summer.
As far as the budget is concerned, project manager Rob Crothers says they are in good shape.
“We are under budget, we’re a little bit long on time but we are under budget,” he said.
He says the delays come from unpredictable conditions that were found once work began — like what lies underneath the brick facade at the front of the main branch.
Laura Carter, the library’s director of branch experience, says they were surprised by what they found. Insulation behind the brick retained moisture, causing brick ties to rust away and ruining some some bricks.
“The condition was a little worse than what we were expecting. We had to bring in some consultants to make sure that we were doing a comprehensive repair that was going to last for a number of years,” she said.
Bricks now have to be replaced and painted to look like the originals that are no longer available.
Crothers says the wall is being reinforced as a precaution as well.
“We’re reinforcing with helical ties drilled into the wall to better secure the face brick to the back-up wall in case those ties are rusted as well.”
The parish house at the building’s west end dates back to the 1840s.
Asbestos was found between the original limestone wall and the new block wall.
Along with disposing of the asbestos, there were previously unknown drainage issues that had to be addressed.
A small temporary library has been set up on Wellington Street for the duration of the renovations until summer. A soft opening of the renovated Johnson street main branch is set for sometime in August.
Heather Brennan stops in at the temporary branch fairly regularly and says she’s not surprised by the delay.
“Old buildings, you start ripping things out, you’ll find little surprises now and then,” she said.
Kyra Pearson isn’t surprised either but she is ready to get into the main branch again and out of the considerably smaller temporary downtown branch.
“It’ll be nice to see more programming and be able to take my child and play. I miss those things. the delay doesn’t really stress me out too much, we’ve learned to cope,” she said.
A larger grand opening celebration is planned for September.
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