Despite fire, Wauconda library project nearing completion

  • Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comAn exterior renovation project at the Wauconda Area Library, shown here shortly after it began in September, should be mostly wrapped up in December.

    Paul Valade/pvalade@dailyherald.comAn exterior renovation project at the Wauconda Area Library, shown here shortly after it began in September, should be mostly wrapped up in December.

 
 
Updated 11/29/2018 4:46 PM

An October fire that damaged the Wauconda Area Library's roof temporarily halted an exterior renovation project -- but work resumed and should be completed in December.

New stairs and ramps leading to the front doors are being built as part of the nearly $1.6 million effort at the library, 801 N. Main St.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Additionally, a driveway has been widened, LED lighting fixtures are being installed and greenery will be planted, among other changes.

"Everything has been progressing quickly, and within the next two or three weeks it will no longer seem so much like a construction zone," Director Tom Kern said.

Some elements will take a little longer to finish. For example, steel handrails the library ordered for the stairs and ramps won't be ready to install until early next year, Kern said, so temporary railings will be put in first. New plants won't go into the ground until spring.

"We are adding the temporary railing simply so library patrons can start using the front entrance again as soon as possible," Kern said.

The project wasn't too badly affected by the Oct. 16 fire, which burned part the roof and an overhang above the front doors.

The flames never entered the building or even reached the walls of the library, Kern said. Damage was estimated at $50,000, firefighters said at the time.

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Kern is grateful someone reported seeing the fire before it grew out of control.

"It was actually very difficult to see the fire -- it seemed to be primarily just smoke coming up at the roof's edge," he said.

The fire required the construction project to stop for 11 days. The debris from the fire needed to remain in place so insurance inspectors could conduct their investigation, Kern said -- and the spot was right where the construction work was being done.

The fire's cause hasn't been determined, Kern said. The insurance claim is being processed.

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