Rebuilt Shute Park facility expected to open in March

If you can’t fix it with a hammer, it can’t be fixed. That old saying rings true in the case of the Hillsboro Public Library’s Shute Park branch at 775 S.E. 10th Ave., which is now closed to the public for major renovations.

On May 17, a number of Hillsboro dignitaries — including Mayor Jerry Willey and Hillsboro Library Director Mike Smith — lined up with golden sledgehammers in hand for a brief ceremony. With Willey leading the way, they dutifully smashed into one of the walls slated to be demolished to make way for what will be an almost completely rebuilt HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Looks like asbestos, Mayor Jerry Willey jokes with the crowd after taking a ceremonial first swing with a golden sledgehammer at Hillsboros Shute Park Library last Friday. The library is being almost completely rebuilt in a project that will keep the facility closed until March 2014.

The 15,000 square foot Shute Park library, built in 1975, has long been regarded as the city of Hillsboro’s “least efficient” building, and this renovation project will change all that. The building will get new windows, a new roof, new plumbing and electrical systems, new hearting and cooling technology, retrofitting of the entire building for better earthquake survivability, and the entrance will be moved from the south side of the building to the west side.

The library was officially closed to the public on May 11, and the contractor — Howard S. Wright Co. — expects to complete the reconstruction in March 2014.

While the library is closed, patrons will be diverted to the Hillsboro Main Library, at 2850 N.E. Brookwood Parkway, or to the bookmobile that will be stationed adjacent to the Shute Park location. The bookmobile will be in service Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Mayor Willey appeared to be having a lot of fun taking a sledge to one of the interior walls. After he took his first swing and knocked open a big hole, Willey paused to take a look at the debris spilling out.

“Uh-oh! Looks like asbestos!” he joked.

“Do you have your construction permits?” someone in the crowd of onlookers called out.

Willey played along, not missing a beat.

“This is Hillsboro! We don’t need no permits!” he shouted as he took another swing with his golden sledge.

Willey also took notice of library director Smith’s enthusiasm with the sledgehammer, as Smith gave the wall several good shots.

“He’s ready to take it down all at once,” said Willey.

Others taking the first ceremonial swings with their sledgehammers reflected on the milestone of seeing the aging building about to be reborn.

“This event has been a long time coming, and it’s long overdue,” said Aron Carleson, president of the Hillsboro City Council.

Deborah Clarke, chairman of the Hillsboro Library Board, pointed out that there was some unintended symbolism in the timing of the Shute Park library’s planned reopening.

“The fact it will open in 2014 will celebrate 100 years of library history in Hillsboro,” Clarke explained, noting that the Carnegie Library — the first library in Hillsboro — opened at the corner of Lincoln Street and Second Avenue in 1914.

Smith said he was pleased to know the rebuilt library will be much more practical and efficient than the existing facility.

“It’ll be great for the city and the patrons to have a new space for the library and keep up with the times,” said Smith. “This has been talked about a long time. It’ll be worth it in the end.”

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