Today’s news:

Bugs chow down-Termites feast on Fort Ham. library

The discovery of extensive termite damage under the subfloor at the Fort Hamilton library is delaying the reconstruction of the structure.

According to City Council-member Vincent Gentile, work at the branch, at 9424 Fourth Avenue, had been proceeding well until the discovery of the damage by the contractor. “I want to give you some good news and some bad news,” Gentile told members of Community Board 10, gathered in the community room at Shore Hill, 9000 Shore Road, for their January meeting.

Among the work that has been completed is the foundation for the addition, Gentile said. Also, said Gentile, the contractor had completed shoring up the site and underpinning adjacent properties, as well as “90 percent of the footings and the foundation walls for the extension.” But, he said, when the contractor had removed the subfloor, the damage to the floors had been discovered. To remedy the problem, Gentile went on, the contractor has “proposed installing concrete slabs in the building’s crawl space so it will prevent future termite damage.”

At the moment, said Gentile, the contractor and the city’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), the agency overseeing the job, are in negotiation, because of the added cost of the repair work. The delay in renovations caused by this, he noted, will “extend the time of completion.” In the meantime, however, Gentile said, the contractor is engaged in “doing exterior work.

“They can’t do any interior work till they complete the negotiations,” he stressed.

The library closed March 29, 2008, for what was expected to be an 18-month-long project. The $3.36 million library renovation, for which Gentile had secured the funds, will result in a 50 percent larger library.

Overall, the rehabilitation of the century-old library, which is one of the borough’s 18 original Carnegie libraries, strives to increase usable space in the branch while restoring the elegant beauty of the classical revival style structure.

An extension to the original structure at the rear and side will include a new meeting room, and will add 1,700 square feet in usable space to the structure, which will go from 3,300 square feet to 5,000 square feet.

Also included in the plans is the creation of a First Five Years area for young children and their caregivers, the installation of 18 computers with Internet access for public use, and new restrooms that are ADA compliant. New lighting, a new ceiling, new flooring, new bookshelves, new windows, upgraded electrical and plumbing systems, and new heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems are also part of the project.

While the library is closed, residents who use the branch must rely on Bookmobile service on Mondays and Wednesdays.

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