JACKSON — Something new has been added in front of the Jackson Public Library: a storm drain to funnel unwanted moisture away from the building's entrance.
Last winter, an extremely cold and snowy one, the library had to be closed several times because the walkway iced over. Not only that, but the head librarian slipped and fell on the skating rink-like surface as she arrived to open the building one freezing Sunday afternoon.
"That persuaded the town and the trustees that something needed to be done," Library Director Lichen Rancourt told the Sun this week.
As explained by Jackson Road Agent Pat Kelley, the problem is the sidewalk is lower than the parking lot and the water has nowhere to go.
"We talked about plowing more, but that's a double-edged sword: If you overplow, it looks really bad in the spring," Kelley said Tuesday.
The library is housed in the former Trickey Barn, which once stood behind the Jackson Grammar School. It was dismantled in 2008 and its timbers stored by the Jackson Historical Society.
In 2009, plans began being discussed to reassemble the barn as the library on the hill next to the town offices on the site of the old Gray's Inn.
A cooperative effort between the historical society, the town, Friends of the Jackson Public Library and the school district, along with much fundraising and grant-writing resulted in the beautifully repurposed building patrons enjoy today.
Nearly 350 households contributed to restore the barn — and through donations, grants and town appropriations, it opened May 27, 2011, at a cost of $1.35 million.
Kelley recalls that day. He also recalls that "due to budget stuff and the need to open the building," some details might have been lost in the shuffle. Like the sidewalk.
"For whatever reason, it just ended up being low," he said.
Putting in the drain was his idea, Kelley said. "The library sits on town property," he explained. "They came to me and said Lichen fell, we need to fix it."
Meanwhile, he said, "the library trustees said they had some funds and would help with the materials."
Since Kelley did all the work, the total cost of the project ended up being a quite reasonable $3,000. "We had to rent an excavator, that was $1,000." The drain, grate and crushed stone to take away the runoff, came to about $1,500.
In addition, the light pole in front of the library had to be moved. "It's close to the sidewalk. It needs to be moved about 20 feet over. We'll have to hire an electrician to move some wires around," Kelley said.
The drain itself, he said, is a big concrete cylinder made of perforated well tiles. "There's 2 feet of stone under it and 4 feet all around it."
He admitted the system might be a bit of "overkill, but not a lot of overkill."
As for the library director, to say she's ecstatic is not overkill.
The low sidewalk "has been an issue since the library building opened," Rancourt said.
To get the problem fixed took the town and the board of trustees working together, which she said was both necessary and great to see. "It made me realize that we are one of the busiest town buildings in Jackson," said Rancourt, estimating that the library averages 80-100 people a day come through its doors.
She praised Kelley for working around the library schedule. "He and his crew were wonderful. They were very patient and thoughtful about our service and aware of when we were open. I can't say enough good things about them."
The Jackson Public Library, located at 26 Main St., is open Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 2-5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and closed Mondays. For more information, call (603) 383-9731 or go to jacksonlibrary.org.
Reporter Tom Eastman contributed to this article.