Rahway Public Library and Recreation Center were among the “victims” of Hurricane Sandy, with damages running as much as a half-million dollars to the two facilities.
The City Council last month approved a $750,000 bond ordinance (O-35-12), including a downpayment of $35,715, for various improvements to city facilities damaged in the October storm. The largest item listed in the ordinance was $285,000 for the acquisition, installation and replacement of the floor at the Recreation Center, and another $205,000 for acquisition, installation and replacement of the roof at the library.
There also was $155,000 for acquisition, installation and replacement of various office furniture and equipment at City Hall and $105,000 for the repair of the roof and acquisition, installation and replacement of various equipment at the Department of Public Works.
The bond ordinance was prepared until insurance comes in but the Redevelopment Agency might pursue the builder of the library for damage incurred if it’s not covered by insurance. The city plans to file for reimbursement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for costs due to Sandy, including physical damage as well as overtime salaries and additional expenses allowed, such as hiring of out-of-state tree crews, according to City Council President Samson Steinman, though he said there’s no estimated total yet.
During his report to the Redevelopment Agency last month, City Engineer James Housten said the membrane that was attached to the library roof came loose during Sandy’s high winds, causing tears around the drains and columns, de-laminating the membrane and tearing it from the insulation.
The tears and drains were repaired to keep from losing the membrane and temporarily reinforce it. Roof replacement likely would be necessary in the near future, which Housten estimated at about $150,000, on top of about $35,000 to reinforce the membrane. The drains connected to the plumbing were never attached to the framework, allowing the wind to lift them up, he said. There was a 15-year warranty on the roof, but only up to winds of 55 mph, but if it was cause by improper installation, he added, it might not be covered by insurance.
The 75,000-square-foot facility opened in 2004, with $3 million of the $15-million construction cost coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), another $7.4 million from federal and state governments, $1.4 million from the state Office of Emergency Management, $1 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and $2 million from the New Jersey State Public Library.
The library was built as a public-private partnership. The Redevelopment Agency remains a member of the condominium association that manages the facility along with the owner of the top two floors of office space which was acquired in 2009 for $4.55 million, The old library, at the corner of St. Georges and Central avenues, was destroyed by Tropical Storm Floyd in September 1999.
Neighboring Carteret had planned to request $53 million from FEMA for damage to public and private property. In Passaic County, the federal government had planned to buy 65 homes damaged during last year’s Tropical Storm Irene.