Stairway stress

The Front Street entrance of the Peter White Public Library in Marquette is closed to the public due to unexpected issues involving the stairs. The stairs are expected to remain closed throughout September, said PWPL Director Andrea Ingmire. (Journal photo by Jaymie Depew)

MARQUETTE — The Front Street entrance of the Peter White Public Library in Marquette is currently closed to the public due to unexpected issues involving the stairs.

“It appears that the staircase risers are crumbling in place and that they do have footers, but we will not know that until the work begins,” Andrea Ingmire, the library’s director, said in an email. “Limestone steps will be removed, footings assessed and installed if missing, new riser walls installed, and salvaged limestone steps reset and sealed.”

Worst-case scenario — the project could cost over $100,000 to repair the stairs, Ingmire said.

“We are hopeful that footers exist and that other portions of this work are better than expected so that we see some cost savings,” she said.

In May, the library’s renovation project began with repairs to its interior and facade after library staff first discovered a crack in the main building’s wall several years ago. The project includes major repairs to the 1904 facade, roof, resealing all the building’s windows, heating and cooling equipment updates, safety, technology and furnishing updates, space reorganization and additions, and more.

The PWPL Board of Trustees approved a bid from Marquette-based Closner Construction in April for the estimated $4.2 million project.

With the renovation project expected to wrap up early next year, Ingmire said repairing the stairs should not change the overall construction time frame.

“Patrons should anticipate that the Front Street stairs will be closed through the month of September,” she said.

The library is still on schedule for moving its Youth Services Department, which is currently housed at the Westwood Mall along U.S. 41 in Marquette Township, in mid-October and reopening the lower level of the library early November.

The Marquette Arts and Culture Center should also be moving around the same time, Ingmire said, with the center reopening for regular services in December.

On Tuesday, Ingmire said workers were hanging new ceilings and cabinetry was expected to arrive.

“Doors may also go in this week,” she said. “Work on (the) main level will be starting a bit earlier than anticipated. The Huron Mountain Gallery work will commence (the) first week in October. We plan to have that work completed in time for the Holiday Walk tree program which will start right after Thanksgiving.”

Ingmire said they are still awaiting bids for the repair of the elevator and that the technology for meeting rooms, furniture for the upper two floors, and some of the “extra” pieces are on hold right now due to the increased cost for repairing the stairs.

“We are tracking expenses and projected expenses as the project progresses and will add the remaining pieces of the project as funds allow,” she said.

The grand reopening for the lower level of the library will take place on Dec. 1, the same day as the library’s Winter Wonderland Walk and Holiday Open House, which will feature Christmas trees decorated by local groups being displayed in the library.

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