Family Wants Its Pratt

Watchdog

Reisterstown Road Branch Months Late In Reopening

August 02, 2009|By Liz F. Kay

The problem:: When will a Baltimore library branch reopen after renovations?

The backstory:: Ellen Schwarz has a simple request.

"I want my Pratt back," she says.

The Northwest Baltimore woman is talking about Enoch Pratt Free Library's Reisterstown Road branch in the Reisterstown Station neighborhood. It closed in April 2008 for renovations and was scheduled to reopen in March 2009, according to the sign out front.

Shortly before then, however, the date on the sign disappeared.

The library system's Web site suggests the branch might reopen in the fall, but that estimate has been extended to spring 2010, said Pratt spokesman Roswell Encina. A series of problems, including delays in securing permits from the city, issues with contractors and difficulties getting materials such as windows, has held up the project, he said.

"It's been frustrating for us as well," Encina said. "We definitely want her Pratt back, too."

Similar problems have postponed the reopening of the Edmondson Avenue branch, which closed in spring 2008, he said. That library is expected to open this winter, postponed from the fall. Both aging buildings needed an overhaul, Encina said.

"We wanted to update it for the folks that live there," he said.

The branches will have more computers and better access for the disabled. The cost of the Reisterstown Road branch renovation is $1.5 million, and $2.5 million for the Edmondson Avenue work. To assist those in the Reisterstown Station area who can't reach other branches, a Bookmobile has been making regular stops at the nearby shopping plaza, Encina said.

Schwarz understood the explanation for the extended closure. "Any remodeling project, it's the same story," she said.

She has been taking her four children, ages 3, 6, 8 and 10, to Baltimore County libraries, since Maryland residents can use any library system statewide - a feature Schwarz appreciates.

"We've lived in eight places, and this is definitely the best library system I've ever heard of," she said. "It's the one place where, when we go there, when they say, 'Mommy, Mommy, I want, I want,' I can say, 'OK.' "

Who can fix this:: Pat Costello, Office of Neighborhood Services, 410-545-7132. City residents should call 311 to report problems.

-Liz F. Kay

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Is there something in your neighborhood that's not getting fixed? Tell us where the problem is and how long it's been there by e-mailing watchdog@baltsun.com or calling 410-332-6735.

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