Library springs a leak after winter storm

Wastebaskets are placed to collect water dripping from the ceiling of the Port Orchard Library. Water from snow melting on top of the building’s flat roof leaked through in several places. - Courtesy photo
Wastebaskets are placed to collect water dripping from the ceiling of the Port Orchard Library. Water from snow melting on top of the building’s flat roof leaked through in several places.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Flooding wasn’t a huge problem during the recent snowmelt. Wasn’t a huge problem, that is, except in a couple of normally dry spots.

Both the Port Orchard and the Manchester Libraries closed last week after water soaked carpets, dripped down walls, and created a backlog of books to return.And in the case of the downtown library, issues that could have been averted with a much-needed new roof.

The Port Orchard Library was closed for three days during last week’s winter storm, then had to remain closed Saturday after frozen drains were overcome with snowmelt and water leaked through the library’s dilapidated roof. Branch manager Kathleen Wilson said when she arrived at the library on Saturday morning, she was astounded at the amount of water coming through the ceiling.

“There were multiple leaks in the reading area, and the back area where we keep the servers,” she said. “We had seven trash buckets down and put plastic all over the reading area.”

The leaks damaged a large area of carpet and a few stack of books, but luckily missed most of the library’s stocks. The computer equipment was also spared.

“We were lucky,” she said. “It’s so fortunate that the leaks missed the servers.”

The city’s public work’s director Mark Dorsey said the excessive leaks were caused when frozen drains couldn’t clear adequately clear snowmelt, creating a pool of water on the library’s flat roof. A perfect storm for an old roof prone to leaks.

“It’s an old, cruddy flat roof,” Dorsey said. “It (the library) needed a new roof last year.”

When Wilson called him Saturday morning with the news of the problems, Dorsey sent public works employees over to the library to clear as much snow off the roof as possible, he said, helping to ease leaking into the library.

A new roof was scheduled to be installed last year. The city, which owns the building operated by Kitsap Regional Library, allocated 120,000 from a Real Estate Excise Tax for the purchase of a new roof. City engineers hoped the money would be enough to buy a pitched roof. But when the project went out to bid last spring, Dorsey said the city only received one bid for 180,000, putting a new roof too far out of reach.

“The cost was too high,” he said. “I don’t know if thats because there was no competition or why, but it was too high for the city.”

The allocated money was carried over into this year’s budget, Dorsey said, and the city once again plans on putting the roof work out for bid in the spring.

Dorsey hopes the removal of overhead power lines above the library in February should keep the cost of a pitched roof down. He also plans to extend the bidding to contractors, not just roofers.

If bids remain too high, the city will just replace the flat rood, keeping cost down but making for more problems in the future.

“They will get a new roof one way or the other,” he said. “I just hope it’s not a flat roof.”

The downtown library and the city have the longterm goal of relocating the library. The city shouldn’t plan on installing a 40-year roof for a building that might only be occupied for 20 years or less, he said.

A new roof wouldn’t help the water problems at the Manchester Library. During the recent snowfall a water pipe in the libraries floor burst, soaking the carpet.

Susan Whitford, the director of technology and facilities for Kitsap Regional Library, said the damage was lessened because members of the Friends of the Manchester Library, the group that owns the building, were checking the library daily during the winter storm.

“The damage (caused by the burst pipe) was significantly less than the other time,” Whitford said, referring to a broken pipe in the library’s ceiling that closed the library for five months in early 2011.

Whitford said volunteers quickly brought in dehumidifiers and fans to dry out the wet carpet. The library should be reopened by today.

Though the snow is gone from downtown, Wilson said it wouldn’t take much for the ceiling to start leaking again. The city patches the roof often, but there is only so much patch jobs can do on a faulty roof.

“I’m hopeful we’ll get a new roof soon,” she said. “We need it.”


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