The Englewood Public Library is set to reopen March 13 after closing roughly two months ago due to methamphetamine contamination.
Christina Underhill, the city’s director of parks, recreation, library and golf, announced the reopening in an email to the city’s library board members on March 3. There will also be enhanced security coming to the civic center through the addition of more guards, she said.
Underhill and Deputy Director of Public Works Chris Edelstein presented different options for enhancing security at the civic center and library during the Englewood City Council’s Feb. 27 meeting.
The ideas included restricting access to certain entrances to the building, adding metal detectors and increasing security guard staffing.
“Our goal is to increase security and safety for all who visit the civic center,” Underhill said.
The civic center and public library are part of the same building, located at 1000 Englewood Parkway. There are three main entrances to the building, including a north and south entrance on the main level of the building and a south entrance on the second floor of the building.
Of the five safety enhancement options that were presented to the city council, staff recommended the option that included making the second floor entrance an employee-only entrance and placing metal detectors and guards at the first floor entrances.
This option was evaluated heaviest from the city’s fire marshal's office and building officials, and multiple city staff were involved, Underhill said.
“The metal detectors would prohibit some items from coming into our facility. We see a lot of shopping carts, bikes, various items that do enter the civic center and the library itself. And so ultimately, that would help deter a lot of … those types of items from coming into the facility, which ultimately will make it safer,” Underhill said.
She said there have been some people who expressed they would not feel comfortable coming into the building if there were metal detectors, while others have said they would feel safer.
Several council members raised concerns about the addition of metal detectors to the building. Mayor Pro Tem Steven Ward asked whether the addition of the metal detectors would make Englewood Public Library the first public library in Colorado to have metal detectors.
“I do not want to be the first library in the state of Colorado that installs metal detectors. It’s important to me. I want to maintain a safe and orderly environment. There are more ways to do that than metal detectors,” Ward said.
“I have similar reservations about the welcoming feel of the library if we install metal detectors,” Councilmember Joe Anderson said.
In addition to having concerns about the metal detectors, Councilmember Rita Russell said she had a problem with the idea of restricting the second floor entrance.
“This is where citizens come to do their business, not just to go to the library. And I think we need to have it open and inviting,” Russell said.
Following some discussion of different ideas, a majority of the council agreed to keeping all of the entrances open and increasing the number of security guards in the civic center so that there will be a guard at each of the entrances as well as another guard floating throughout the building to respond to any potential issues. No metal detectors will be added.
This new plan will increase the city’s annual security cost by more than $300,000, according to the staff’s presentation.
In her email to the library board, Underhill said the north civic center lobby will be open but the north doors to the library will remain closed.
“The easiest way to access the library is through the south entrance on the parking garage side. Our library security staff will be positioned inside the south entry doors,” Underhill wrote.
She noted it is possible that the bathrooms will not be ready for the March 13 opening, and that the on-site restroom trailer will stay in place until all restrooms are reopened.
As part of its security enhancement measures, the city is considering adding environmental sensors to the restrooms on the first and second floors, according to the staff presentation.
The city has been in contact with two different manufacturers of environmental sensors, Edelstein said. These sensors would not be able to distinguish meth, he noted. However, these sensors are meant to detect total volatile organic compounds, smoke, vape and noise.
“They can, number one, notify our camera system. So, that way it can kind of flag the camera outside — we don’t have cameras in the restroom facilities, let me be clear on that — they’d be outside the door,” he said. “So as the individual walks out, they can kind of get … a screenshot of that individual and the technology is there to kind of follow them through the cameras … inside the civic center.”
Edelstein said the reason for the environmental sensors is to try to prevent reoccurrence of issues such as smoking substances inside the restroom. The cost of implementing the environmental monitoring equipment is currently unknown.
Councilmember Chelsea Nunnenkamp asked if there was an estimate on when the city will know the costs of the monitoring services. Edelstein said the city is waiting on a demo unit and there is not currently a time estimate.
“It’s gonna tie into our camera system so I would assume it’s gonna be a one-time cost for the purchase of all of the items, and then after that, it rolls into our normal camera system — security camera system,” he said.