By Tessa Raebeck
On Saturday, February 15, at around 1 p.m., the last of the new piles for the foundation of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s addition went into the ground, just moments before the snow began to fall. Missing the snowstorm was a small bit of good luck in a four-year construction process that has been wrought with setbacks.
With the foundation excavated and the piles installed, Sag Harbor’s historic library is finally moving full steam ahead on its addition—and Executive Director Catherine Creedon couldn’t be happier.
“It’s great,” Ms. Creedon said Tuesday, “This has been, as you know, a long journey… the design process for these piles was intensive.”
Screw-like stainless steel poles driven into the ground to support a structure, the piles were first delivered in December after geological conditions, the historic nature of the 201 Main Street building and the village’s requirements that vibrations from caused by construction be limited together mandated the complete redesign of the foundation plan.
That part of the process was finally completed Saturday, “so we’re up and running now,” said Ms. Creedon. The next steps are placing the underground plumbing, electrical work, ductwork, piping, conduits and loop hearing system, or essentially everything that needs to be set in the ground. A grade beam, which helps distribute the weight of the foundation, will then be installed atop the piles and the foundation will, at long last, be poured over that. Ms. Creedon is hopeful that work will be completed by the end of March.
The restoration and expansion of the library officially began in 2009, when the community approved a referendum to fund nearly $10 million for the project, with the library committing to raise an additional $2 million. In the nearly five years since, the library has exceeded its goal, raising about $2.5 million through grants and pledges. But due to the setbacks, Ms. Creedon estimated another $1 million is necessary to complete the project.
“It’s generally, I think, hard to point to any one thing and say this is what it was,” she said of incurring the additional costs. “Part of it was the extended permitting process we went through which had its own expenses, part of it was work on the dome, part of it was work on the foundation and some of it was the economy itself; that when we had the referendum vote in 2009, we were in a period of de-escalation in construction costs and now we’ve moved into a period of escalation in construction costs.”
Ms. Creedon used to give timeframes for the reopening of the expanded library in months, but has now reduced her speculation to seasons. “And the season I’m going to say is late fall 2014,” she said Tuesday. Her personal goal is for the community—and the patient staff and patrons of the library—to be able to enjoy it again by the time it celebrates its 104th birthday October 10.
“The temporary space has been great,” said the director, “but I’m so excited to have the new building in place for us to be able to really expand on the programs we offer to the community.”