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Library in northern Berks in dire need of repairs, supervisors learn

Conditions at the Bethel Tulpehocken Public Library are hazardous and in desperate need of repair, according to a consultant from the Reading Library District.

“I’m quite concerned for the safety of staff working in the library and the patrons visiting,” Stephanie Williams wrote in a letter to the Bethel Township supervisors.

That letter was shared by Supervisor Jacob Meyer at Monday’s meeting.

Williams said she visited the library at 8601 Lancaster Ave. in Bethel in September and found issues including a water-stained furnace that leaks carbon monoxide, missing floor tiles, a hole in the wall of the women’s restroom and sagging water-damaged ceiling tiles.

The furnace is in the process of being replaced, said Paul Stauffer, library treasurer.

Stauffer said the library’s board of trustees has voted to start looking into relocating the library if the township cannot approve a comprehensive plan for renovations by the end of March.

“We all know how bad the building is,” Stauffer said. “We were doing dishes and the water was black. I just went over there, and the water is still black. It’s a dire situation.”

Stauffer implored the board to offer a budget for renovations so the library’s board of trustees can start establishing a scope of work.

To guide the renovation process, the board on Monday appointed township engineer Jeffrey Steckbeck to lead the library project.

Steckbeck said plans for a library renovation had been drafted in October 2018 by Nest Architecture Inc., Lebanon, but were never implemented after the project went to bid and came back as too expensive in the board’s estimation.

A total of about $200,000 has already been spent on two previous library design plans, Stauffer said.

Steckbeck said he had been in touch with architecture firm Beers + Hoffman, Lititz, about a new plan, which would cost $98,150.

“If it (the old plan) is useable, maybe that (price) can come down substantially,” Steckbeck said.

“When I hear (we) might spend another $100,000, I really, really don’t want to go that way at all,” Stauffer said. “I’d be very glad if we could use a majority of the old (plan).”

Stauffer also noted the library’s director, Kaitlin Lehman, has submitted her resignation.

“She’s gone through two different architects, and she feels like she still has nothing to show for that,” Stauffer said.

Stauffer said the library board of trustees doesn’t want Lehman to leave and are in talks to have her stay.

“If we come back to her and say the township has a plan in place, I think that would go a long way, not just for her (Lehman) or the board members, but for the entire staff,” Stauffer said. “It’s just been a little disheartening.”

The board said the budget for the library project will be discussed at the township budget meeting Nov. 16 at 6 p.m.

Steckbeck said he plans to begin forming a workshop to discuss project plans next week.

The payloader issue

Also at the meeting, several residents again questioned who was responsible for the township’s unauthorized rental of a payloader in June.

Supervisors never voted on the lease, and last month Meyer said he didn’t know who authorized the rental.

Resident Lisa Hassler asked supervisors to produce paperwork showing who signed the rental agreement for $23,120 with Plasterer Equipment Co. Inc., Lebanon.

“Who was here? Who opened the building for them to put the loader in?” Hassler asked.

Meyer and Supervisor Robbie Lane said they didn’t know who accepted the loader or signed the paperwork. Supervisor Mike Graby was absent from the meeting due to the death of his wife.

Hassler asked supervisors to authorize the township solicitor to obtain from Plasterer the paperwork showing who signed for the loader.

Supervisors agreed not to authorize getting the paperwork because they had yet to discuss the matter with Graby.

“We’re gonna pay a fee for him (the solicitor) to do this,” Lane said. “I don’t think we should authorize spending the fee without him (Graby) here to speak.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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