Monday, March 28, 2011

The Great Debate

The main branch of the Reading Public Library is violating the city fire code regulation. And it has been since the building was built back in 1910. Why? Because there is no street number on the front of the building.

Simple. Just add it, right? Wrong! The library is located in the city’s Callowhill Historic District which means the original structure can’t be altered. It was proposed to replace a grill above the doorway but research seems to indicate that the grill in question was there from the beginning so it can’t be done.

The fire marshal contends that it is a code requirement and therefore, must be enforced. His argument is we might have a new firefighter who is unfamiliar with the city and not immediately recognize the building as the library. Hm, okay. That makes the assumption that the fire department would send one lone fireman out to respond to an alarm at a huge, half block-sized building full of paper stuffs. Actually, with the changes Act 47 has forced on the city’s services that possibility is not quite as farfetched as it should be.

That aside, let me tell you what’s on all four corners at that particular intersection. A nail salon, a yard full of trees beside a church, an abandoned building that is boarded up, and a huge, granite structure with a double tiered set of steps, pillars and oh yeah, “Reading Public Library” chiseled into the granite all the way across the front of the building. Yes, it truly is. Seems to me that any new fireman who can locate the 100 block of south Fifth Street should be clever enough to identify which building is the city’s main library, with or without a number out front.

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