Delays push back Olney Library opening -- Gazette.Net


County officials now say that the renovated and expanded Olney Library will probably not open until January, marking three full years that the community has gone without a library.

David Dise, director of the county’s Department of General Services, said the building’s exterior is now expected to be completed by early November, instead of the Oct. 18 date that was provided by county and library staff at the Sept. 10 meeting of the Greater Olney Civic Association.

“Work is being done, and the project is fully staffed with 55 to 60 laborers,” he said. “There have been a few delays, but two weeks is not unexpected in a situation like this.”

Dise cited examples of delays in doors being delivered, and having to work with Pepco and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to resolve some utility issues.

Once the exterior is completed, the library staff will require six to eight weeks to sort through materials, stock the shelves and organize prior to its opening.

In July, after work on the project had come to a halt, the project’s general contractor, Milestone Construction of Sterling, Va., announced that it was going out of business. Milestone agreed to complete the project, and county officials stepped in, along with a surety company, to get the project back on track and oversee its completion.

“All in all, two weeks is still better than if we had shut down the job altogether, Dise said.

“The library staff is very much aware that the community is anxious to have their library open as soon as possible, so everyone is working hard to achieve that,” Dise said. “We are working to get it done as fast as we can. If we get it done sooner, than great.”

Committee Chairwoman Helene Rosenheim said that there was a sense of disappointment at the news, but she understands that construction delays are not unusual.

“We thought the Oct. 18 date was pretty optimistic, so we weren’t surprised,” she said. “Considering all that has happened, a couple more weeks is not horrible. It’s not like they aren’t trying to get it done.”

The Olney Library closed in December 2010 after staff funding was eliminated as of January 2011, in anticipation of construction, which didn’t actually begin until the spring of 2012. The library, located on a 2.5-acre parcel near the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Olney-Laytonsville Road, was built in 1981.

The nearly $13 million project will expand the building from 16,825 to 22,574 square feet, and will also include a complete renovation of the interior. The energy-efficient facility will offer increased seating, an enlarged children’s area, a separate teen area, program rooms, meeting areas, quiet and group study rooms, and new furnishings.