Westfield Athenaeum continuing its transformation

WESTFIELD–Now that the preliminary work is done, the construction and remodeling is underway at the Westfield Athenaeum. 

Workers demolish a portion of the Westfield Athenaeum that is undergoing renovation. (Photo provided by Jayne Mulligan)

Demolition, as well as remediation of asbestos within portions of the library that was a concern for some, were wrapped up last week, all as part of a campaign to modernize the facility and better accommodate handicapped individuals who use the library. The project is part of a series of renovations occurring at the library for the first time in over 50 years. 

According to Jayne Mulligan, a member of the Board of Directors for the library, the project–which is the first phase of several the board hopes to take in renovating–is expected to last about another six months to complete. 

“This is the first part of the big, heavy duty stuff,” she said. 

The renovations are being done to create more access through a variety of improvements for handicapped patrons, including a new wheelchair ramp, improved parking and more handicap bathroom access. Additionally, a large reference and quiet study room is being planned, which will help to improve the limited access library-goers currently have to such.

Regarding asbestos removal, Mulligan and fellow Board of Directors member Linda Saltus said that the problem was resolved. 

“No more asbestos,” Saltus said. “We discovered this was a problem exclusive to the 1966 addition.”

That addition, according to Saltus, was for the boy’s and girl’s and adult’s reference areas. 

The worry of asbestos made it to the Board of Health at one point, being discussed during a meeting they held last month. 

“There was a concern but testing found it lead-safe, silica-safe and asbestos-safe,” Saltus said. “We take safety of the staff and the general public very seriously.” 

According to Mulligan, the work, which is being done by Forish Construction, is expected to cost about another $140,000 to $150,000, which still needs to be raised. Fundraising efforts will continue throughout the year, including a Christmas in July event where patrons can choose an ornament off a tree that will have a need for the library that still needs to be purchased. 

Other events are yet to be scheduled. 

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