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Boulder plans to spend more than $100K to clean main library after meth contamination

The city plans to reopen the library without bathroom access on Jan. 9.

BOULDER, Colo — A projection by the City of Boulder shows that they will spend more than $100,000 on testing and remediation after a a third-party company found high levels of meth in the bathrooms of the main library. Council members reviewed the test results during a meeting on Thursday night, and discussed plans for reopening

As library director, David Farnan has never presented on something like this. 

"I learned a lot more than I ever thought I would learn about how users use drugs," said Farnan. 

He said in late November there were two incidents of smoking in the bathrooms. His team suspected narcotics were involved. Around the holidays, Farnan said several staff members walked into smoke-filled bathrooms and some people reported dizziness. The library called the fire department for help. 

According to Farnan, there were 10 additional incidents from November 29 to December 15. 

The library at 1001 Arapahoe Ave. has been closed since Dec. 20, when air duct testing showed high levels of methamphetamine contamination, which were far above state thresholds. A contractor's report found the highest contamination levels were limited to public restrooms. There was also some surface contamination in heavily-used seating areas. 

As part of the solution to correct the issue, affected furniture will be removed and the restrooms will be given a thorough cleaning. 

Farnan said the library has no intention of reopening bathrooms without monitored access. Children and their guardians will need a key card to access the kid restrooms. Adult bathrooms will also have restricted access. A staff member will have to let someone inside for a medical emergency.

After the cleaning, additional testing will be conducted to ensure the areas are cleaned up properly. 

The city plans to reopen for full public access on Jan. 9, but the bathrooms will remain closed. Remediation work in the bathrooms will take a few weeks.

City council members expressed their gratitude for the library and health department's hard work to fix the issue during the Christmas holiday. Both sides felt confident the clean-up will fix the problem and the space will be safe for children and families. 

Farnan said the main library sees more than 1,000 visitors a day.

The facility is thinking about adding security in the building to prevent these situations in the future. Anecdotally, the city has heard of other library branches across the country are also facing the same issues with drug use.

Bill Hayes, air quality coordinator in Boulder County, said he has a teenaged daughter who uses the main library frequently. He didn't express any concerns for her safety.

"I don’t have any hesitation for once the library reopens letting her go back in," said Hayes.  


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