Officials: Shelton library to close on hot days all summer due to broken air conditioning

Photo of Brian Gioiele
Signs notify patrons of the closure of Plumb Memorial Library due to the coronavirus in Shelton, Conn., on Wednesday Apr. 8, 2020. A plush toy bear sits in the front window to greet passers-by.

Signs notify patrons of the closure of Plumb Memorial Library due to the coronavirus in Shelton, Conn., on Wednesday Apr. 8, 2020. A plush toy bear sits in the front window to greet passers-by.

Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Plumb Memorial Library, without a functioning air conditioning system, will be closed on warmer days.

The city announced the latest impact on Shelton’s main library branch — the interior of which was closed for months during the pandemic. Now the library — which is open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. — faces an uncertain schedule depending on each day’s temperatures.

“Over the next few months, the Plumb Library may be closed for business on warm days as the main air conditioning compressor is non-functional,” the city’s website states. “Due to the pandemic, we are experiencing delays in obtaining parts.”

The city website asks those planning to visit Plumb Memorial Library to call 203-924-1580, ext. 5101, to find out if the building is open.

“Parts have been ordered, but due to COVID, everything is backed up and it will take a while for them to come in,” library Director Joan Stokes said. “The city crew has really done their best to keep it going, but it is a very old system.”

Mayor Mark Lauretti confirmed the inability to quickly obtain equipment to replace the system during the Board of Aldermen meeting July 8. At that meeting, the aldermen voted to waive the bid process and approve spending $137,600 to replace the system. The funds will come from aldermanic bonding.

Lauretti said, without going out to bid, it will take some 12 weeks to get the replacement equipment. The time needed to obtain bids, Lauretti said, would add another month and a half to the process.

“It would be unwise to go out to bid,” city Director of Building Maintenance Chris Potucek said. “The unit broke down beyond repair … we need to order the unit now as there is roughly a 12-week lead time to get (equipment).”

A&B Mechanical LLC Co. will perform the work, and Potucek added that the city will do as much work in house as possible.

“While we wait for the parts, on the days when it is simply too hot to get the existing system functioning at all, (Lauretti) has given us permission to close early,” Stokes said. “It simply isn't healthy for the staff or the patrons to be here when it is tough to breath. Fortunately, we have been overcast most days we have been here and that has kept the heat down, and we have lots of fans going in the meantime.”

In another vote, the aldermen also approved replacement of all windows at the Huntington Library branch, which is located on the community center campus. The $318,966 approved for the work will come from aldermanic bonding.

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com