By JOANNE PAPAIANNI
BRADLEY BEACH – Plans to make the Bradley Beach Public Library ADA compliant were presented once again at a special meeting last week. The library board and the borough have been discussing the issue and presenting designs for more than a decade.
Architect Michael J. Mills of Mills and Schnoering Architects, LLC said handicapped accessibility is the most important factor in designing renovations and a possible expansion at the library.
Mills said although the library has not been challenged with a lawsuit yet, the possibility of one being instigated by someone who is wheelchair bound is an ever present possibility.
Mills and his associate Anelle DiSisto gave a brief history of the 85-year-old building before presenting their two best options for not only providing ramps and an elevator for accessibility, but for adding additional space as well.
One of the options would cost $850,000 while the other is estimated at $1,180,000.
The two options were narrowed down from nine given to the library board for review following a study done by the architects.
Mills said some of the money could be obtained through grant funding, but the borough would have to be on board to help fund the project.
The next step, he said, was to present the plans to the borough for review and possible approval.
Both options call for an addition to be built in the rear of the Fourth Avenue building, one added directly on the existing building, with a similar exterior and one with a hyphen, or breezeway construction and a more modern pavilion-type addition. Both would include ramps and an elevator.
Currently the two-story building has no ramps leading into the building and only one bathroom on the lower level which can only be accessed by a narrow stairway.
Installing an elevator would allow those with mobility challenges to go down to the lower level, which houses the children’s section of the library.
Both sets of plans also include an outdoor plaza for use in good weather.
In the past few years the building has suffered water damage due to drainage issues coming from the roof.
The roof has been repaired and a drop ceiling is in place, but water damage to the interior walls has not been addressed.
Option two includes ramping along the west side of the building for access into the Fourth Avenue main entrance. The front of the building and its brass doors would remain the same. A designated handicapped parking space is also included in both options.
In summing up the presentation Mills said, “It’s possible to do a very nice addition and make the building accessible.”
Kathryn Christensen, a former library board member, said she has attended many meetings regarding expansion and accessibility over the years.
“They have talked about this so much, I wanted to get the facts.”
Mills said once an option is chosen and approvals have been given the timeline for the construction would be 10 to 12 months.
Library Director Janet Torsney, who was hired 18 months ago, said library circulation has increased 35 percent with 45,000 visits logged.
“Across the nation, it went down,” she said, and credited Charlene Edwards, program director for the increased participation at the library.
“We are up against it as far as space. We, I must say, use every inch of this building,” Torsney said.
Pictured above – Bradley Beach Library photo (www.bradleybeachlibrary.org)