Renovation plans in the works for Vandergrift Public Library

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Repairs are likely to come at Vandergrift Public Library.

Library Director Vanessa Groholski said Vandergrift Council members and a structural engineer have visited the building to assess damage caused by longstanding water seepage, which has caused interior paint to bubble and walls to crumble.

“It’s going to be a really big project,” Groholski said.

Groholski had sent a letter to borough council in late September detailing the damage that she said has been an “ongoing problem.”

“This letter serves as our intent to preserve the historic building and to continue making it the heartbeat of the community,” she wrote. “The issues have been present for far too long and remediating the issues soon will be a
proactive approach.”

Groholski enclosed with her letter several photos of problem areas in the library, which is in an annex of the Casino Theatre. The photos show severe damage caused by moisture and age.

Councilman Lenny Collini said the engineer and council members are still assessing the damage and determining what needs to be done. Once that is complete, the borough can begin seeking funding and grants to help finance the project.

Collini said it’s too early to estimate the cost or timeline for addressing the repairs, as the borough will have to seek contract bids. But he’s confident there will be several grants available — including those designated for libraries and historical buildings.

“We’re going to try our best and figure out what we can do to alleviate the problem,” Collini said.

At this point, Groholski said the library staff’s days are occupied with constant maintenance. They must regularly vacuum up white powder that sheds from the walls.

In the children’s library, they’ve hung a table cloth on one wall that’s become too much of an “eyesore.” In another room, the wall is crumbling so badly it can no longer support the blinds installed on one of the large windows.

The staff has had to glue the blinds back to the wall. And it’s imperative that they have blinds, Groholski said, because sunlight can damage the books.

Protecting the books is a priority, Groholski said, as well as the integrity of the building, itself.

“This is a historical building and from the research I’ve done, in order for it to be a historical building, you need to be able to keep up the maintenance and quality of the building,” she said.

The library is housed within Vandergrift’s Casino Theatre, which was entered onto the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 as part of the Vandergrift Historic District.

The need for renovations comes during a difficult time for the library.

As is the case for many public services, the Vandergrift Public Library is strapped for funding amid the covid-19 pandemic. Groholski said they’ve had to cancel fundraisers and escape rooms that normally raise money for the facility.

Meanwhile, they’ve had increased costs for personal protective equipment and cleaning services, in addition to the regular costs of maintaining the collection.

Groholski said any donations from the public are highly encouraged.

Teghan Simonton is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Teghan at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Local | Valley News Dispatch

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