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Working to Reopen Library Buildings

Sandy-related damages hit West End Branch the hardest.

The main branch of the Long Beach Library, at 111 W. Park Ave., may reopen by March. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
The main branch of the Long Beach Library, at 111 W. Park Ave., may reopen by March. (Credit: Joseph Kellard)
Story by Jeff Lipton.

For the past two months, contractors have been working feverishly inside the three Long Beach library facilities in an attempt to reopen them after Hurricane Sandy pounded them, officials said.

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The Point Lookout Branch, which sustained the least damage, is scheduled to reopen by the end of the week, and the main branch, located at 111 W. Park Ave., is slated to reopen in late winter, said George Trepp, director of the Long Beach Public Library. But there is no known timetable for repairing the West End Branch, which suffered the heaviest damage.

About 85 percent of the main branch’s book collection was salvaged and, along with other library materials, fill 2,740 boxes that were moved to the building’s second floor. The boxes are being stored in the auditorium, program room and hallway.

The Nassau Library System is housing more than 60 boxes of materials, including CDs that could not be stored there.

Library officials put in an insurance claim of $650,000 to cover storm-related damages at the main branch, including to books, several computers and to a custom-made cherry wood circulation and reference desk, said Trepp.

The Long Beach School District, which owns the building, hired Delfor, a national remediation firm, to gut the first floor. They ripped out the carpet, cut the sheetrock and removed the wet insulation.

“Now the school district is in the process of putting it all back together,” Trepp said.

“It’s going to be late winter and into March,” he said of the reopening. “It can be earlier than that, but I don’t want to be overly optimistic. Things have not gone swimmingly so far.”

An electrician worked on the facility last Thursday and on Monday about 1,600 feet of insulation and 150 sheets of sheetrock are slated to be installed.

Warren Vegh, a library trustee, said that remediation is moving forward at the main branch: “It started out as a slow process and now it’s picking up and moving quickly. We’re moving in the right direction.

“It’s not just a library, but it’s a meeting place for the community and a help to the public,” Vegh added.

To date, the library had laid out about $172,000 at the main branch alone — $120,000 to box the salvageable materials and move them to the second floor, $46,000 to replace the elevator motor and $4,000 for heating, ventilation and air conditioning work, Trepp said.

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He said the library has been trying for seven weeks to recoup money from FEMA.

Trepp said he has also received personal heartache as a resident of the Canals, where he saw three feet of water on his first floor during the hurricane. In addition to his furnishings, he lost two cars. He and his wife have recently moved back in after living with friends and relatives.

The storm wreaked havoc to the West End Branch, at 868 West Beech St., which took in four feet of water, Trepp said.

“It’s very bad over there,” Trepp said. “The [property] owner is in the process of reconstructing it. It needs a lot of work. We basically discarded everything from that branch.”

Tossed out were books, DVDs, shelves and other furniture and computers, amounting to almost $90,000 in losses, he said. He expressed hope FEMA would reimburse the library for those damages as well.

“All had to be junked in the West End Branch,” said Vegh. “Once we do remediation there, it has to be tested for air quality and mold to protect the health of the general public, which is first and foremost.”

The Point Lookout Branch did not sustain as much damage because it sits on higher elevation, said Trepp. That library branch, at 26 Lido Blvd., sits on property owned by a real estate agent.

The main branch and the Point Lookout facility both passed air quality tests, Trepp said. Trepp, who has served as library director for 30 years, said Hurricane Sandy was the worst he has ever seen.

“We’ve had some issues, but nothing of this dimension,” he said. “When you live on a barrier island, you should know something like that can happen. We’re grateful there was no loss of life.” 


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Eddie January 07, 2013 at 05:46 PM
George Trepp, who is unidentified in this story is the library's director. He has had the post for many years and is a true professional. I trust he's doing an excellent job reconstructing the place. In a community mucked up with unqualified political, Mr. Trepp is a true exception. Probably why he and his staff run such an efficient and valuable organization.
Tonto Hertzberg January 07, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Keep the library closed. The only people that use it are free loading seniors taking out movies and illegal aliens using the computers to manufacture phony ID.
BSM January 07, 2013 at 09:23 PM
Another compassionate, well thought out comment from Mr. Snyder. LB has been blessed with an excellent library and reaches out to the whole community. It is wonderful to see all the children who use it regularly. and look forward to the reopening. I'm sorry George Trepp, along with many other of our neighbors, has to deal with the aftermath in both his personal and business life.
Charlie Cheswick January 08, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Mr. Snyder, don't forget about those free-loading illegal seniors using the computers to purchase pirated movies as well! Could you be more thick? Sheesh...

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