FAIRFIELD — An unwelcome Thanksgiving Day surprise will cost an estimated $500,000 in repairs and result in a 10-week shutdown of the Fairfield Public Library at 1080 Old Post Road.

On the morning of Nov. 22, a water valve burst on the second floor of the main library, causing “extensive damage” to the basement, first and second floors of the building, according to Human Resources Director Emmet Hibson.

“The water flowed unobstructed to the library,” Hibson said at the Board of Selectmen meeting Dec. 19. “The water flowed through the library until it activated the fire alarm at 2:30 a.m. and there was an immediate response and we started mitigating the damage immediately.”

In a long-awaited public update, Hibson said the library was eyeing a Jan. 31 reopening, exactly 10 weeks since the water valve burst. The cost of the damage — which included various rooms, soundproof tiles, sheetrock walls and the art gallery, among others — has been estimated to be $500,000 by the town’s insurance carrier, CIRNA, and an independent damage assessor. The town will pay a $100,000 deductible for the repairs.

Hibson said that the Finance Department would determine “whether to use budgeted department funds or contingency funds.”

Town Librarian Helene Murtha and Building Maintenance Manager Jim Ryan accompanied Hibson for the update on the facility.

More Information

To visit the library’s website, visit: http://fairfieldpubliclibrary.org/

“We started to replace the flooring outside the main hallways, rerouting the first floor bathroom, the circulation desktop, the ceiling tiles,” Hibson said, going through a laundry list of items that seemed to encompass nearly every section of the library.

The Board of Selectmen made inquiries, particularly on what could be done to prevent similar accidents in the future.

“We’re looking at putting sensors in the library to detect water,” Hibson said.

Selectman Ed Bateson asked how library employees had been affected by the damages. Hibson said part-time employees are effectively not working and thus are not being paid. Full-time employees have been distributed among the other two libraries — Pequot and Woods Branch — that have also expanded their hours of operation.

CIRMA has reviewed the scope of the damage along with an approved vendor, JP Maguire Associates.

First Selectman Michael Tetreau emphasized that ensuring the library was safe for patrons was the foremost priority.

“The goal was to open it up as safely as we could on a timely basis,” Tetreau said.

humberto.juarez@hearstmediact.com