City expected to declare state of emergency after discovering damage to library roof

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MTT News's picture
Matt Geiger

City officials have closed the Middleton Public Library for at least a week following the discovery of what city administrator Mike Davis called “substantial structural damage” to the trusses supporting the building’s roof.

In a message to city staff and elected officials, Davis said the problem was discovered on the south side of the building, where a visible gap had appeared in the roof.

“While structural engineer Mike Leiferman was visiting about the Library employee access project last Tuesday, January 19, he and [library director] Pamela Westby noticed a gap in the ceiling that had not existed previously,” Davis explained. “On Friday, Leiferman climbed into the area above the ceiling/below the roof to investigate and found substantial structural damage to the trusses. 

Leiferman advised Westby and building inspector Scott Ellarson to close the library to protect the public and library employees. Westby closed the building effective Saturday, Jan. 23.

The city took additional action over the weekend, city attorney Larry Bechler draft a resolution to declare a public emergency.  That resolution was added to the Public Works Committee’s agenda on Monday of this week.

Davis said that due to emergency provisions under state law, no bidding is required for the repair work and the agenda item can be added without the requirement of a 24-hour public notice. 

The Middleton Public Works Committee is the governing body for this emergency resolution, and the city council’s role is only to determine when the emergency is no longer in effect, according to Davis. 

“I would imagine such council action could take place at either the scheduled special meeting on Saturday, Jan. 30 or at the regularly-scheduled Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 2,” he said.

City officials hoped repairs to the roof’s supporting structure could begin early this week.

Ideal Builders is being engaged to do the work to repair the structural damage, and the city’s property insurer is on notice of a pending property claim. 

Leiferman estimated the repairs would take one to two weeks.

“Obviously, we are hoping for a quick turn-around to re-open the library, but we need to have public safety foremost in our deliberations,” said Davis. 

The closure sent library workers scrambling to find locations at which to hold a variety of scheduled library programming. City Hall and other municipal buildings were working with Westby to help find new spots for as many programs as possible.



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