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Freeport Library board, Village at odds over roof repair

Freeport Memorial Library's board president has urged Village Mayor Andrew Hardwick in a public letter to set aside funds to replace a section of the library's roof.

Library officials said the roof in the east wing, which the village owns, is so leaky that garbage bins have been set out to collect water on rainy days, including at a job fair Monday in the library's meeting room.

"We've put a tarp above the tiles so that all these leaks will gather into one place," said library director Dave Opatow. Last night he said village workers installed new ceiling tiles Monday to replace damaged ones and filled in gaps where others had been removed to let puddles collected in the tarp drain.

Hardwick said village officials had found no such leaks during several site visits after rains. Village workers concluded that the roof didn't need to be replaced and fixed seams that Hardwick said may have been damaged by library workers boring holes in the roof.

Opatow said professionals took small samples to test for mold, following accepted practices.

Part of the dispute concerns cost. Library officials said an architect recommended the replacement at $190,000. Hardwick said an earlier proposal had a $500,000 estimate, which the library denies.

"There is no way in the world I was going to give up that kind of money for a roof replacement that's so outrageously priced," said Hardwick, citing village budget constraints.

On Jan. 15, village trustees approved the budget for the new fiscal year, starting March 1, without money for the roof replacement. That day, library trustees staged a protest rally.

In the letter delivered to Hardwick Monday, library board president Darleyne Mayers exhorted Hardwick and village trustees to set aside money to replace the roof.

The village's current position seemed to reverse an earlier commitment. In an August 2009 letter to a state library agency, village attorney Howard Colton said the village "has sufficient funds to proceed with the roof replacement project," and that the work would begin in July on receipt of "any potential grant money."

The library got a matching grant for $51,000, but Hardwick said the library had indicated it would seek grants to cover the total, something Opatow denied.

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