Middlebury eyes major repairs to Ilsley Library, town pool

MIDDLEBURY — While the prospect of building new municipal offices and a new recreation center is grabbing most of the headlines in Middlebury these days, the town is also taking stock in two other substantial capital projects: major repairs to a portion of the Ilsley Public Library roof, and the need to install a liner in the town swimming pool.
The Ilsley Library roof has been showing wear and tear, to the extent that there have been signs of moisture attacking the building. Library directors have contracted with Middlebury-based Vermont Integrated Architecture (VIA) to put together a roof repair plan.
That plan will consider better insulation, a watertight envelope and replacement asphalt shingles or a standing seam metal roof on the 1988 portion of the roof, according to Ilsley Library Director Kevin Unrath. The added insulation, officials said, could also cut the library’s annual heating and cooling costs.
Library officials are also concerned about ice damming that is occurring on a flat portion of the roof where the 1988 portion and the older section (built during the 1920s) come together.
“Insulating that connection will be key,” Unrath said.
Selectboard Chairman Dean George, who also heads up the town’s public works committee, said early estimates show the library roof project could cost around $250,000, a figure that officials had hoped would come in considerably lower.
Also looming on the to-do list is the installation of a pool liner at the town pool, a project that’s expected to cost $80,000 to $100,000, according to George. Without such a liner, an estimated 33,340 gallons of water per day escaped from the pool during each day it was in use this past swim season. That came up to a total of 2,435,000 gallons, according to Middlebury Director of Operations Dan Werner.
The town hired Aquatic Development Group (ADG) Inc., a New York company that sells and inspects aquatic equipment, to take a close look at the municipal pool and its deficiencies this past spring.
The company recommended about $130,000 in upgrades, including work on the gutter grating, wading pool pump/filter, wading pool disinfection system, automatic chemical controller, and system monitoring gauges. But the biggest ticket item among them is installation of a pool membrane lining system.
Water has been escaping from hairline cracks within the concrete walls of the pool, as well as from a tiny opening where the stainless steel gutters rest on top of the pool. Repeated caulking and other temporary fixes throughout the years have failed to stem water from escaping the pool, which was built in 1977.
“(Middlebury) staff reports that the pool loses a significant amount of water on a daily basis during the operating season,” the ADG report stated.
“The amount of make-up water required to keep the pool at a proper operating level causes the pool water to never have the opportunity to naturally warm, resulting in complaints from pool patrons about the water being ‘too cold.’ While the addition of a gas fired heater would alleviate the patron complaints, the root of the problem is water loss from the pool, which must be addressed.”
In its report, ADG said a liner will be critical.
“The installation of a reinforced PVC membrane lining system should be considered to address the leakage problems and to renew the appearance of the pools,” the report stated. “The PVC lining system would provide a watertight structure while isolating the concrete structure from the further negative effects of water infiltration. Most lining systems carry a 10-year warranty and they are a cost effective renovation method.”
The report also suggests a piping pressure test in case some of the leakage is being caused by water escaping from underground piping.
While fixing the municipal swimming pool is likely to be costly, local officials said the facility’s popularity is undeniable during summer months.
“This summer, I was overwhelmed by how well loved … that pool is,” said Terri Arnold, director of the town’s Parks and Recreation Department. “It is a huge recreational asset to the community.”
George said the Public Works Committee will probably recommend to the selectboard that the library and swimming pool projects be financed through a bond issue, rather than added to the fiscal year 2015 capital improvements budget. The committee has already received $1,171,000 in funding requests for a budget that this year stands at approximately $700,000.
Committee members noted that approving the pool and roof projects through a bond would allow the annual debt payments to be spread out in future capital improvements budgets, thereby lessening taxpayers’ financial pain. The town has done this before for various water and road projects.
“For the costs involved, it would be good to put both (projects) in together and build it into the budget each year,” George said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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