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Norfolk council mulls library roof repairs

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NORFOLK — The Hepburn Library’s roof needs repairs, but officials haven’t yet agreed how to fund them.

Library Director Vicky L. Brothers wrote to Supervisor Charles A. Pernice on July 31 about the roof which “is and has been leaking,” and received an estimate of $7,800 in repairs.

Ms. Brothers said she hoped the Town Council would consider funding the repairs, which she said began about a year ago.

“This building is a town building. We don’t own the building. The town does,” Ms. Brothers said.

At Monday night’s meeting, the Town Council agreed the repairs were necessary, but did not yet commit to funding them.

“I’m a little dismayed this has been going on for awhile, that we didn’t hear about it sooner than this,” Mr. Pernice said.

He also wondered why the library was able to find a state grant to repair its front steps, but couldn’t find outside money for the roof project.

Councilman Donald I. Purvis, who serves as a liaison to the library, said the town may have to commit to the project.

“I don’t think we have much choice in the matter,” Mr. Purvis said. “We’ve got to go in there and stop the leaking.”

“Any way you slice it, you can’t have a roof that continues to leak,” Councilman Robert J. Harvey said.

Councilman Kevin M. Enslow wondered why the library couldn’t have financed the repairs with existing town funding. The town provides the library with approximately $106,000 a year.

“We write them a check every year and they spend it as they see fit,” he said.

The $106,000 is just enough to pay for the library’s operating costs, materials and five employees, Ms. Brothers said. The library specifically applied for grant money for the stairs, and not the roof, because they were “crumbling” and considered a greater liability for the town, she said.

“That’s why we chose to get that done, before someone got hurt,” she said.

She also waited to write to Mr. Pernice until she could receive an estimate on the repairs.

The library has $20,000 in reserves from its benefactor, A. Barton Hepburn, but uses the interest from that account only for books and materials, she said.

“We just feel it’s the town’s obligation to the building,” she said.

Ms. Brothers said she understood if the repairs couldn’t be completed this year, but hoped they would be soon. The council may revisit the issue at a subsequent meeting.

“The longer you wait on those issues — they don’t correct themselves,” she said.

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