Five months into the construction of a new library at 3541 Park Ave., Brookfield Public Library officials took some time on Sept. 19 to celebrate, inviting members of the community to sign a couple of steel I-beams slated to become part of the top of the structure.
While library officials called the event a “topping off” ceremony, it’ll be a couple weeks yet until that top frame is welded into place. But with the outline of the building starting to take shape in three dimensions, the crisp, sunny day served its main purpose – to show off what’s to come and reflect on the many years it took to get to this spot.
Library board President Dianne Duner compared the board’s 12-year odyssey to get a library design approved and financed to Sisyphus, the mythical deceitful king of Corinth, doomed by Zeus to roll a boulder up a hill only to have it eternally roll back down again.
“That’s how we all felt for the last 12 years,” Duner said to a small crowd of library officials and community supporters as she stood before the exposed steel beams, masonry and concrete foundation on Saturday morning. “We’d roll that boulder up to the top and there were so many things at the top that prevented us from going over.
“What’s behind my back … is what was on the other side of the mountain.”
“We’re very excited; we’ve been waiting forever. We are so stoked,” said Andrew Starr, who visited with his son, Linus, a Congress Park School student.
Library Director Kimberly Coughran, who was hired in 2005 and within a year was tasked by the library board to lead an expansion effort, also reflected on the more than decade long campaign to get a new facility built.
“It’s great to see it go up, obviously,” Coughran said. “It’s been a long time in the coming, so it’s very nice to watch it take place. It will be very great for the community.”
The roughly $10.7 million library project – the construction contract by itself is about $8.54 million – remains on schedule to be completed by mid-2021, said Dan Eallonardo, the library board’s construction consultant.
However, he said, the complete steel frame won’t be in place for another three to four weeks. Before that can happen, according to Eallonardo, the masonry walls that will enclose the elevator and stairwells need to be finished.
And while work remains largely on schedule, the general contractor, IHC Construction, did amend the schedule slightly after library officials OK’d additional waterproofing for the lower level of the building.
The roughly $100,000 expenditure became necessary after the foundation was dug and workers encountered more ground water than soil borings had indicated.
“As a safety measure, we thought it best to add some extra protection for the lower-level space,” Eallonardo said.
The additional waterproofing included installing drain tiles along both the interior and exterior foundation walls, three sump pits holding five sump pumps, installing a waterproof membrane on the exterior walls and other measures.
The library board also recently approved spending about $60,000 to install a backup generator in the case of a power outage. The generator itself was a gift to the library from Brookfield residents Steven and Sue Berthel.
The Berthels in 2019, donated $20,000 to the Brookfield Public Library Foundation’s capital campaign. A six-person meeting room and the Children’s Activity Area will be named for the couple.
In all, the library board has approved about $176,000 in change orders as construction has progressed, but work remains well within the budget, said Eallonardo.