Construction stalls at RCPL's main library

·3 min read

Oct. 16—LUMBERTON — Renovations have stalled at the main location of the Robeson County Public Library system.

In April, Metcon Construction began much-needed repairs to the exterior of the John P. Stedman building, located at 101 N. Chestnut St. The project entailed replacing the current exterior panel system, which is original to the building that opened more than 50 years ago.

Renovations were estimated to be complete around this time but were stalled because of a delay in delivery from the vendor providing the metal panels to the contractor, according to Katie Fountain, the executive director of the Robeson County Public Library system.

"We are currently about six weeks behind schedule and some of the materials have not been delivered yet," Fountain said. "Because of that, I do not have a firm updated completion date."

Still, the contractors are "working diligently to move the project forward," Fountain said. So far the checklist of things that have been completed include demolition, abatement, framing, insulating, minor roofing repairs and weather sealing.

"The contractors are currently installing the metal paneling, beginning with the soffits, or bottom panels. There has been some electrical work completed for our exterior recessed lights and that will be completed once the panels are fully installed," Fountain said.

The budget for the project has increased from $363,800 to $448,935.82.

"The increase is due to needing additional abatement services, installing angle, blocking, bridging, insulation and knee wall above windows, and installing new windows in the technical services area," Fountain said.

The project is partially funded by the City of Lumberton and Robeson County governments, who jointly allocate funds for building maintenance and repairs for the main library.

Once construction is complete, new lettering will be placed on the entrances of the Second Street window. Also, a new library book drop will be installed, replacing the First Street drop damaged during the demolition phase.

"Patrons are currently able to access a book return at our Chestnut Street entrance," Fountain said. "We are happy to share that once construction is finished, we will install a new book drop in the same place."

Fountain said new landscaping is also planned post-construction.

This year's project will be the first major renovation project in the past 20 years.

Talks of replacing the panel system at the library was first discussed in the early 1990s when renovation planning for the main library building was underway, according to Bob Fisher, retired RCPL director of nearly 30 years. Years later the panel system was determined stable enough to not need immediate attention but the issue was exacerbated following Hurricane Matthew, and later, Hurricane Florence.

Following the storms, the library has experienced minor leaks along walls and ceiling tiles inside the building.

"We are very appreciative of the community being so patient and understanding during construction," Fountain said. "We are looking forward to seeing the finished look and adding to the beautification efforts in Downtown Lumberton."

Tomeka Sinclair can be reached at [email protected] or 910-416-5865.

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