When the Oak Forest Neighborhood Library reopens to the public, it likely will have a fresh look.
The Houston City Council last week unanimously approved $8,600 in funding to repair and improve the library, which sustained damage during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. According to the city council agenda for the Sept. 9 meeting, flooding caused some interior damage and wind-driven rain leaked through the roof and into the main entrance, children’s section and teen area.
The Oak Forest location at 1349 W. 43rd St., along with the other Houston Public Library locations, have been closed to the public since March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Libraries are so important for our community — especially this one, with so many families and young kids in and around our Oak Forest neighborhoods,” council member Abbie Kamin said in a statement. “This is also a reminder that more than three years later, Houston has not fully recovered from the damage caused by Harvey. I am glad we were able to pass additional funding and ensure the Oak Forest Library will finally be repaired and restored, and ready for children of all ages when our city libraries are open and it is safe for us to gather in person again.”
According to the council agenda item, the city intends to seek reimbursement from FEMA and other eligible sources for the $8,600, which is being appropriated from its Miscellaneous Capital Projects/Acquisitions CP Series E Fund for Hurricane Harvey Damage Repairs. The project will “reseal, waterproof, clean and disinfect aluminum windows; repair and replace existing wall aluminum trim panels, fiber mat flooring, door sweep and weather-strip; replace damaged acoustical ceiling tiles; replace damaged ceiling-mounted security cameras; and replace damaged electrical and data wiring as required for new installation.”
John Middleton, assistant director of spaces for the Houston Public Library, said the damage was not extensive enough to force the library or any of its wings to be closed in the aftermath of the storm. He also said the upcoming repairs would not impact library operations.
Middleton said the construction is slated to start within 30 days of the Sept. 9 council meeting and expected to be completed within a couple months.
“We’re always happy to move these things forward,” he said. “We understand that it wasn’t the only city building damaged. There were dozens of city buildings, and going through the process of identifying (the damage) and planning and all that takes time. The more we can take off the list and get back in tip-top shape is a good thing for us and our customers.”