Meranti leads the library trustees through the historic building to explain some of its issues.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Building Inspector William Meranti led a tour of the library — from basement to belvedere — last week and pointed out ongoing, new, and addressed maintenance items.
"This is a nice building but there are a lot of moving parts and a lot of different systems," he told the library trustees on Wednesday. "We have a long list of things to do and it is not getting any shorter."
With new trustees, a new library director, and a change in administration, the trustees had asked for a tour of the 1865 mansion get up to date on various issues in the historic building.
Meranti started the tour in the basement, specifically the area under the 2005 addition that is used to store books for the book sale. He pointed out where the addition joins the old building and said this connecting point is often where water gets in throughout the building.
A dehumidifier has to constantly run and he said although there isn't a mold issue in the basement, there is inevitably going to be mold.
"I think you would always want to see a better dehumidification system down here especially with books," he said. "That is their job is to grow mold if there is moisture."
Moving into the actual basement of the building Meranti pointed to brickwork and said some of the aging brick for whatever reason is deteriorating faster than others.
"I am not sure if it is the brick itself, the time it was made, the composition of the brick or if it is the moisture," he said. "I really couldn't tell you."
Meranti brought the group to another room and pointed to more deteriorating bricks most likely caused by groundwater getting into the building.
He led the group through a series of rooms that house various utilities, pointing out the air handling unit, fire suppression system, and the geothermal system.
Meranti said the system is running properly but noted there is an issue with one of the wells the city will have to address.
He added that heating the building on especially cold winter days has always been an issue with the system, however, there is a gas backup to supplement the system if need be.
The system is regularly maintained but some of the specific parts are beyond city staff. Meranti said the city is working on contracting out all of the public buildings' HVAC maintenance. This would include the library.
Moving upstairs, Meranti pointed out where the addition meets the original building. He liked how the exterior wall was kept behind the circulation desk and in general liked how the architects designed the renovation so the building's historical integrity was intact.
"They did an excellent job in my opinion of keeping the old and trying to match it aesthetically," he said. "That is what architects do. That is their thing. Engineering maybe not so much."
What Meranti meant by this was that some of the engineering in the building is not the most practical.
The large skylight for example — Library Director Sarah Sanfilippo said patrons can see mechanical equipment and hundreds of dead bugs when it's turned on.
Meranti said this would not be easy to clean.
"You have to get into it to clean it. You have to actually go in and drop down to get to it and it's glass," he said. "Architects love stuff like that ... and it's a great idea but how do you clean it?"
Upstairs, Meranti showed the trustees some water damage in the children's section. He said when ice builds up and quickly thaws it often gets into the building. Some heat tape may alleviate the issue and stop the build-up during the winter.
He said there has also been water damage in the upstairs bathroom and said this is from the vault, which is directly above the bathroom. He said the vault has its own HVAC system and in the past when condensation has built up it leaks into the bathroom. He said the water damage has been repaired.
As for the vault, he said the HVAC system that regulates the room is currently turned off. Whomever the city contracts to maintain all of the HVAC systems will also address this system.
He said the vault has leaked in the past and that the problem stems from where the old roof meets the addition.
"It's an issue with the roof where everything comes together and we don't want to have that kind of problem here because there is a lot of important stuff in here," he said.
On the third floor, Meranti said the gutter work needs to be looked and will require a lift that can reach them.
He also pointed to the solar panels that he thought was another engineering goof.
"It looks beautiful from the outside but you have solar panels in a 9-foot hole on the roof," he said. "A third of them have been removed over the years and how much they are actually doing, I really don't know."
Trustees check out the belvedere, which has had insulation put in.
Meranti unlocked the butler's quarters that has been left untouched. He said although the paint is peeling and the rooms are in rough shape, the quarters are airtight and do not leak.
The Historical Society plans to renovate the room and use it to store parts of their collection.
The group finished the tour in the belvedere. The bottom level has been newly insulated through Green Community grant funds.
The belvedere was cleaned out but one of the uppermost windows is still broken and open to the elements.
Meranti said the city can fix this window in house and it is just a matter of finding the time.
"It is going to move at the pace that it does. We have one carpenter ... and we just got him back," he said. "We can rebuild it and put it back. It will be as tight as it has been for the past 100 years."
Because the tour took the good part of an hour the trustees voted to move all of their other business to the next meeting. However, they did welcome newly appointed Trustee Lisa Birge.
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