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[BKARTS] Pipe bursts, shuts library in Mahopac (New York, USA)

Pipe bursts, shuts library in Mahopac

(Original publication: December 24, 2004)

MAHOPAC - A third-floor pipe burst at Mahopac's 8-month-old, $7.9 million
library this week, causing substantial damage throughout the
30,000-square-foot building.

The library is expected to remain closed through next week and maybe longer,
but the staff vowed yesterday to reopen as soon as possible.

"This library is so amazing. What happened here?" Ellen Sandoval of Mahopac
asked, as she confronted a sign on the door that read "library closed for
emergency repairs."

Yesterday, she came to return three videos and said she expected to be back
next week with her 9- and 12-year-old children during school vacation week.

"I hope it gets fixed soon. This library is great," she said. "You'd think
something like this wouldn't happen in such a new building."

The water pipe in a ceiling sprinkler broke at 7 a.m. Tuesday, just as the
library's custodian arrived, director Patricia Kaufman said. The Mahopac
Fire Department was called to shut off the water and the emergency sprinkler

"I came in and sloshed through an inch or more of water," Kaufman said,
adding there is a lot of damage to carpets, walls, laminated furniture and
some books. She said she was unable to estimate the cost of the damage.

Yesterday, workers from Westfair Restoration Services, which specializes in
emergency fire and water repairs, carried out sopping carpets and computer
terminals and used fans to dry walls, electrical outlets and furniture.

Library staff wearing sweatshirts and sneakers worked without lights to
shift books off bottom shelves near the floor, wipe materials and check in
items returned through a night drop-off slot.

Louis Oliva of Mahopac managed to walk through the front door yesterday
afternoon, only to find a darkened library with plastic sheeting over most

"I feel bad for this. What a mess," he said, returning one book but unable
to check out a new one. "Sometimes it's on the first really cold day that
these things happen. I hope they can get it all together."

The new library overlooking Lake Mahopac opened March 23.

In October 2000, voters approved a $7.9 million bond. An additional $750,000
was raised from donations for the three-story brick building, which has
become a landmark in the hamlet.

The library moved to its current site in 1967 and shared space with
Erickson's Ice Cream Parlor.

The staff is accustomed to moving and cleaning up after disaster.

Staff members packed up the former library two years ago and moved into
temporary quarters near the Mahopac post office during construction. In
August 2003, an electrical fire in its temporary building shut down that
facility for three weeks during a major clean-up of library materials and

"I don't know, maybe it's bad karma," Kaufman said.

The director praised the 38 full-and part-time employees for their spirit
and willingness to roll up their sleeves to get the library back into
working order.

"We want as little interruption of service as possible," said Helen Limarzi,
a 16-year staff veteran.

"We are so proud of this new place. We want it to be open," she said.
"Unfortunately, we have a lot of experience with this stuff. We never
thought we'd have to do this again."


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