As summer reading season approaches, meaning an especially busy time for public libraries, Baton Rouge’s new downtown branch won’t be open for business. Construction on the $19 million building was delayed for months as officials haggled with some of the firms involved over a safety flaw, an issue that will now have to be addressed in court.
Since a legal resolution of who’s to blame could take years, the Metro Council grudgingly approved spending an extra $2.7 million to correct the problem, an expense the city-parish hopes to recoup through a lawsuit against those hired to design and build the library.
That’s prudent, since it serves no one’s interest for the library to sit idle indefinitely. Now that construction is moving again, the new completion date is in October.
The library system has a good track record as a steward of taxpayer money, as the impressive Main Library and top-notch branches around the parish make clear. With the new downtown branch, library officials hit a snag with contractors, something many of us, including homeowners, who have dealt with construction projects know about.
Construction is set to resume Monday at the long-stalled downtown River Center Branch Library — and no, this isn't an April Fool's Day joke.
While the delay is a pain, it seems that library officials acted in good faith. We hope the new branch is finished this fall as predicted, and that taxpayers can get back the extra money they’ve been forced to dole out.