Flower Memorial Library's fountains, facade will undergo repairs

Aug. 29—WATERTOWN — Flower Memorial Library is about to embark on a series of projects that includes making sure small pieces of marble don't fall from the top of the historic building and getting its two iconic fountains fixed.

In the spring, maintenance workers discovered that 3- or 4-inch pieces of marble were falling to the ground.

A chain was subsequently put up in front of the building to prevent the public from entering the area.

"You don't want pieces of marble falling on people's heads," library director Suzie Renzi-Falge said.

All summer the two fountains in front of the building have been covered because they need to be repaired.

Earlier this month, the City Council appropriated $72,428 to hire Heritage Masonry, Syracuse, to repoint and repair the building's cornice to prevent more pieces from falling.

The city also is waiting for a quote from a company to see how much it will cost to fix an electrical problem on the two fountains.

Somehow water had seeped into the fountain's electrical conduit, City Manager Kenneth A. Mix said. The city hopes to find out whether the electrical equipment can be moved from underneath the fountains and into the building.

Almost 20 years ago, fundraising efforts saved the two fountains from being removed.

In the past several years, repairs have been done to the building's facade at least two other times, Mix remembered.

The engraved lettering at the top of the library and its soffit had to undergo repairs. Heritage Masonry — which also has done work on a wall at Thompson Park — was involved in that work, Mix said.

Inside, about eight windows on the second floor of the 1975 addition will be replaced and there will be upgrades to the lighting in the 1812 and Old Watertown Rooms, Renzi-Falge said.

She said those improvements will help make those spaces in the library more user friendly and meet the needs of its users.

ZeroDraft of CNY is doing the $197,000 lighting and window project.

The state is paying 75% of its cost.

The library is waiting for the windows to be delivered, while the work on the lighting is expected to start soon.

The library is also planning for a future project. Plans are moving ahead to create a "makerspace" on the second floor.

The space will be dedicated for a variety of creating and crafting programs.

Library staff also plan to host educational and teaching events for all ages in that space, Renzi-Falge said. That project and some technical improvements will bring the library into the 21st century, she said.

Libraries across the country dedicate makerspace areas, she added.

A survey will soon be completed to determine what kinds of supplies and technology the public would like to see.

The library is celebrating three milestones over the next two years.

Last month, the library celebrated the 120th anniversary of serving the public, with the commemoration of the building's cornerstone laid in July 1903. In 1904, Emma Flower Taylor dedicated the library to the community and the library opened in 1905.

As required by the state, the library recently released its annual report.

"We're having a great year," Renzi-Falge said. "We're very fortunate to still be in our original building."

Over the past year, 107,317 people visited the library, 1,277 new cards were issued and 125,242 items were checked out.

The city-owned library has an annual budget of a little more $1 million and a staff of 14.

The library is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.