Middletown Russell Library Facilities Study Finds Aging Building in Need of Improvement

MIDDLETOWN – A recently released report confirmed what Russell Library officials have suspected for some time now: It’s time to start planning for new facilities.

The Russell Library Facilities Assessment and Space Planning Recommendations report, produced by HMA2 Architects of New York, NY, in partnership with Legacy Engineers (also of New York), AP Construction of Stamford and Maxine Bleiweis & Associates of Bridgeport, details the challenges physicals of the current Russell Library building, according to a press release.

These include heating / ventilation / air conditioning equipment which has exceeded its useful life by several decades, is energy inefficient and has failed repeatedly in recent years; the roofs are in desperate need of replacement; piles of books and non-ADA-compliant service desks; and a myriad of electrical, plumbing and code compliance upgrades that need to be fixed immediately. The estimated five-year maintenance costs to solve only the most urgent problems themselves amount to nearly $ 2.6 million, according to the press release.

“We are now at an inflection point,” Eamonn Wisneski, Russell Library Board Chair. “The library has been around for almost 150 years in a modified 1834 church building. While various other structures, including a neighboring bank, have been added to our footprint over the past 15 decades, none have been designed. originally for library use.

“The consequences of this have become painfully apparent, especially in recent years as we attempt to transform 21st century library services into an early 19th century structure. It just doesn’t work, ”Wisneski said.

Steve Nelson is a local architect and chairman of the Russell Library Facilities Committee. “The current building does not serve us, and it cannot be easily made to serve us in the future. HMA2’s detailed report made this point clear, and so it is time to step up our future planning efforts, ”he said in a prepared statement.

“A major challenge facing us right now is that if we rebuild on the current Broad Street site, our library would still be technically undersized for Middletown’s needs,” Wisneski said. “According to the Connecticut State Library, the benchmark for a community our size is 1.35 square feet of library space per capita. Considering Middletown’s current population of approximately 47,000, this means that we need a minimum of 63,450 square feet of public library space to serve our residents, regardless of regional users or the future population growth.

“Our current facility is 45,000 square feet and the site is landlocked. The point is that we have passed it and it is not able to meet the current and future mission or needs of the library, ”he added.

Over the next few months, the library will upgrade its software system, migrate to a new consortium and install self-service checkouts. It recently received $ 30,000 from the Connecticut Judicial Branch, to fund youth violence prevention programs and activities over the next two years, the library said.

The reports can be viewed at russelllibrary.org.

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