Heat wave will close down A/C-less Knight, Smith Hill librariesJune 19th, 2012 at 5:36 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site
PCL, the new nonprofit that took over management of the nine branches in 2009, is required under the term of its union contract to close the Knight and Smith Hill branches once the temperature inside reaches 85 degrees, Steve Kumins, PCL’s development director, told WPRI.com.
Mayor Angel Taveras acknowledged as much on Tuesday when he sent out a list of city buildings where residents could seek shelter from the heat – and included all the library branches except Knight and Smith Hill.
Providence Public Library, the similarly named nonprofit that used to run the branches and still manages the Empire Street library, modernized most of the other branches over the years but apparently never got around to Smith Hill (built around 1932) and Knight Memorial (built around 1925).
“For some reason Smith Hill never had A/C installed,” Kumins said. “I think their windows don’t even open. They’re nailed shut. It’s very hard to cool that building off.” Knight Memorial, for its part, is a large building that would be expensive to cool; it also lost its shade when a recent storm blew over the trees behind it. (Knight is named for the same family as CCRI’s Warwick campus.)
PCL is looking to install A/C at the Smith Hill branch next year if it receives a grant from The Champlin Foundations, but “Knight is tough because of the size,” and would be “very expensive,” Kumins said. The two branches aren’t handicapped accessible, either, though that upgrade is also planned for Smith Hill.
Meanwhile, PCL is still figuring out how to manage a $205,000 cut in its annual appropriation from the city for the fiscal year that starts July 1. The City Council restored part of the money Taveras suggested cutting, but the total will still fall from $3.55 million this year to $3.345 million next year.
“We’re figuring that out,” Kumins said. “We have a very, very thin budget. There was no fat to cut.”
• Related: Providence libraries in limbo forces Fox, Taveras to intervene (June 6)