GRAFTON, Mass. - Architects hired to study Grafton Public Library’s handicap access upgrades say the children’s reading room, located in the basement, may be infiltrated with mold.
R. Dayton Fair and Kathleen A. Bartels, principals with LLB Architects, told the Board of Selectmen Tuesday that while formal testing has not been done, the reading room did not pass the “sniff test.” Their report also included a lengthy list of repairs, beyond what is required, that they said should be addressed sooner than later.
“The amount of mold is probably considerable,” said Fair who believes the growth might be lying under the carpet.
Library staff complained to him that dampness is felt in the basement, especially after a heavy rain. Fair doesn’t believe there is pooling water but excessive moisture under the foundation.
The announcement took the board by surprise.
“This is embarrassing,” said Selectman John Carlson. After reviewing the list, Carlson added that the town needs to inspect the children's room immediately.
If mold is found, it could potentially be a health risk. According to the Occupational and Safety Administration, there are 50 to 100 common indoor mold spores that could produce mild reactions such as wheezing and eye irritation. The Centers for Disease Control's website said persons with a compromised immune system or lung disease are at risk to contract a serious infection.
The architects said immediate repairs are also needed:
- New heat and smoke detection devices;
- Defective exit signs need to be replaced;
- Emergency lighting;
- A boiler upgrade to improve air flow.
LLB’s report also included a long list of important repairs that are not part of the mandatory list, but should be addressed soon including replacing carpets, ceiling tiles, obsolete air conditioning units, repairing loose mortar, peeling paint, and water damaged plaster.
Chairman David Ross was stunned the town has spent many years ignoring maintenance issues, especially since the library has been under budget due to staffing issues for years.
“Why didn’t we reallocate $10,000 a year to maintenance?” he asked.
The board said the town has done a poor job in basic maintenance of all its properties, including the library. Selectman John Dowling said a program needs to be in place so that repairs are handled on a regular basis and not left to accumulate and worsen.
However, tackling mold issues and busted A/C units are for another day. A warrant article, to be voted by residents at the Town Meeting, will only address the items that fall under the handicap accessibility upgrades. Town Administrator Timothy P. McInerney said the proposed funding will come from the community preservation fund.