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April 25, 2013

Ceiling at library falls, injures man

Adult reading room remains closed

Staff Report
Cooperstown Crier

---- — A patron in the adult reading room of the Cooperstown Village Library was injured Monday afternoon when a large chunk of plaster dropped from the ceiling above him, officials said.

The library and the Cooperstown Art Association’s gallery and classroom were then closed for the day while village officials arranged for a structural engineering expert to inspect the damage in the building, located at 22 Main St.

According to village trustee Cindy Falk, Jon McManus of McManus Engineering Group in Fly Creek has offered to access the damage and do the spec work for free. McManus has also offered to check out the building’s roof damages and draw up a spec for those repairs. Shingles have been coming off the roof in recent weeks. The trustees voted unanimously on Monday night to accept both offers from McManus as donations to the village. 

The adult reading room will remain closed for repairs, but the children’s room, art gallery and the hallways on the main floor were reopened on Tuesday.

Police Chief Michael Covert said the patron, identified as a 63-year-old Edmeston man, suffered an arm injury when the section of plaster broke loose at about 12:25 p.m. and hit him.

The man was taken to Bassett Medical Center, where he was treated in the emergency room. When he was later released from the hospital, police ferried him back to his car, Covert said.

“He said he heard a noise, went to move a little bit and the ceiling collapsed on him and the chair next to him,” Covert said. “We’re glad that he is going to be O.K. That’s the main thing.” 

He said the man suffered no broken bones, though his arm was put into a sling.

The cause of the incident was not immediately known, said village Mayor Jeff Katz and Lou Allstadt, a village trustee and a member of the village’s Streets and Buildings Committee.

“The building is a little long in the tooth right now and it needs a little care to get its back on its feet,” said Allstadt, who was also the chairman of Friends of 22 Main St. before becoming a trustee.

Allstadt estimated that the oval-shaped section of plaster that dropped was about eight feet long and several feet wide.

Located on the floor immediately above the reading room is a ballroom that is used for classes by the Art Association. Officials said there was no indication that activity in that room would have caused the plaster — which had been held in place by wooden lath — to give way

The adult reading room is located off the main floor of the building. The plaster that fell was near the fire place, on the east side of the storied neo-classical structure, which was commissioned by Elizabeth Scriven Clark in 1898 as a YMCA.

Her son, Robert Sterling Clark, gave the building to the village in 1932. The structure, according to Allstadt, was the original home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, now located across the street.

The basement of the building houses village departments such as the police department and the clerk’s office. Those agencies were not impacted by the incident.

According to the web site, plaster problems are typically caused by either water or settling or movement of a building.