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Boulder pushes back library’s reopening after further testing on meth contamination

By LOGAN SMITH

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    BOULDER, Colorado (KCNC) — The Boulder Public Library, already closed since before Christmas following the evaluation of two staff members for exposure to methamphetamine that was reportedly being smoked in the building’s restrooms, will not open as originally planned Tuesday.

The City of Boulder announced a gradual reopening of the library to begin Wednesday. The facility is not scheduled to return to normal capacity for the public until Jan. 9. That date is tentative.

A remediation contractor has been conducting building-wide testing since the city shut the doors on Dec. 20.

That contractor’s report was received by the city Friday night, according to a press release. That report, along with input from state and county officials, prompted the city to adjust to slow the re-opening process.

Wednesday, citizens will only be allowed to pick up materials that have been placed on hold. No members of the public will be allowed beyond the main entrance.

The full remediation of the affected areas of the building is expected to take weeks, and no timeline has been set for its completion.

“Based on what we’ve learned in the past couple of weeks and with the remediation plans we’re enacting, I’m confident there is no ongoing health risk,” Library Director David Farnan stated in the press release. “We are eager to welcome community members back to the library as soon as possible.”

The building was closed the same day initial testing of public restroom vents “showed levels well above state thresholds for methamphetamine contamination,” according to the city’s press release. The decision to conduct those tests came after two employees fell ill. Both of those staffers were medically cleared for potential meth exposure, per the city.

Still, based on observations and reports of individuals using the drug in the restrooms, the city voluntarily closed the library for further testing.

“Methamphetamine use has dramatically increased as a challenge over the past few years in communities across the nation, including Boulder County,” stated Acting Director of Boulder County Public Health Lexi Nolen in the press release. “Boulder County Public Health is committed to continued partnership with the City of Boulder and others to identify and implement solutions that both protect the community and provide support to those needing help.

“In the meantime, we have reviewed the city’s test results and concur with the remediation plan that has been created.”

Per the contractor’s report, the public restrooms contained the highest levels of contamination, the city stated. A small number of other “discrete” areas also some degree of contamination, too – namely, a heavily seating area with booths and fixed tables along the first floor’s west wall.

That furniture will be removed as part of the remediation, and other items in it will be re-tested.

The public restrooms will not be open at any time during the remediation.

“No public restrooms will be available until the work is completed, new samples have been taken confirming safe access, and the city has received clearance from health officials to re-open these facilities for full use,” the city stated in the press release.

The city plans to review the planned Jan. 9 opening and announce any adjustments on Jan. 6.

Wednesday, library patrons may come to the main entrance at 1001 Arapahoe Ave. between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. to pick up materials that have been put on existing or new holds. This can also be done whenever the library is open in the days following Wednesday’s opening.

“Just bring your library card with you,” the city advised.

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