Sunset Library working toward full reopening - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Sunset Library working toward full reopening

January 5th, 2022 development
Sunset Library working toward full reopening

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Four months ago today, a gas explosion at a Chandler strip mall forced the Sunset Branch Library to close. It has yet to fully reopen.

Library Manager Rachelle Kuzyk says it should be open soon, most likely in January and by no later than February.

“There was an entire wall in the building that had to be taken down,” Kuzyk said. “A water main broke in the building because of the explosion directly next door, so we lost, $20-to-$30,000 worth of material because it was just completely saturated from the one wall that abutted against that shared driving space of the building that blew up.”

The wall has been rebuilt and painted. Library employees still had to put the shelving back up and then put all the materials back in place as of Dec. 15.

In addition to the wall, Kuzyk said a lot of work had to be done on the building’s roof. The impact of the explosion caused the suspended lights inside the building to become twisted.

The t-bar ceiling also had to be replaced. That’s the false ceiling found in many office buildings that hides pipes and ducts that run under the roof. Crews also needed to dry out the carpet after the pipe burst and had to replace some areas that were damaged.

“It’s just kind of a little bit of a lot of work over the last few weeks,” Kuzyk said.

The Sunset Library was damaged Aug. 26 when a gas line exploded at the Platinum Printing shop in the neighboring strip mall. Four men were injured in the blast and the eastern half of the mall was destroyed.

Kuzyk said Sunset was one of their busiest locations before the explosion so the closure has been a hardship for the residents who rely on that branch.

“When you consider … use by square foot, Sunset is our busiest library,” she said. “It’s a much smaller building than [the main library], but it rivals the activity that we see here.”

One regular patron of the library said she feels the staff has done an excellent job despite the hardship.

“The library feels like it’s been open because I can still reserve anything that I want,” said Connie Dunham of Tempe. “They have a variety of things you can go through and check out. I found an audio book that sounds like it will be fun.”

To help fill the gap because of the closure, the library has been offering lobby service to residents since about two weeks after the blast. People can place a hold on whatever item they want to check out, then pick it up between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. six days a week.

It’s the same service they offered when the pandemic forced the library to shut down.

“Fingers crossed, we’re a month-ish out from the library being able to reopen,” Kuzyk said.