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Shrewsbury library project, school repairs to move forward

Shrewsbury – A proposed town library expansion is one step closer after voters approved a measure to purchase additional land for the project at a Special Town Meeting held Jan 19.

The Shrewsbury Library Building Committee had been working on a plan to expand or relocate the current library for several months. Article 11 asked the voters to approve the purchase of a parcel of land on Main Street currently owned by the Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union (SFCU). The purchase, which is estimated at $760,000, would add space for a potential library expansion, as well as additional library parking. The town will use $80,000 transferred from its Free Cash Fund, with the additional $680,000 being borrowed and paid for over a 20-year period.

A presentation outlining the proposed plan was given to Town Meeting Members before the vote. The plans include maintaining the section of the library constructed in 1903 and replacing an addition built in 1979, as well as adding onto the current building. The project is estimated to cost $18.7 million but the town is applying for a state grant that would reimburse nearly 50 percent of that cost. Shrewsbury is one of 35 towns competing for the grant money, but Library Director Ellen Dolan said she was confident the town’s application was strong.

Kevin Samara, representing Precinct 2 and Chairman of the Historical District Commission, said whether this land is used for the proposed library project or not, purchasing it would be a “windfall” for the town.

Others in attendance questioned the wisdom of the purchase, particularly if the library expansion did not take place. Town Manager Daniel Morgado said the land would still be a valuable town resource, adding “any time we can be our own neighbor; it is a good purchase to make.”

Article 12 asked voters to accept the preliminary design for the renovation and expansion of the Shrewsbury Public Library and to authorize town officials to apply for, accept and expend any state grants available for the project.

A small number of voters said the library expansion project made no sense in the current economic climate. Some questioned whether libraries would be in existence in a few decades now that e-book readers have become popular. Member Chris Kirk, representing Precinct 1, said the proposed building program is based on inaccurate and obsolete data. Kirk urged Members not to approve the article so that it could be revised and improved.

Others, including Precinct 2 Representative Kevin Byrne, disagreed. He voiced his support for the article, noting libraries were about more than just books, they were also “a community place for people to meet.”

Library Building Committee Member Michael Lapomardo noted the vote would only allow the committee to take the step of applying for the grant.

“No money is being appropriated and there will be ample time to make changes later,” he said. “But we need a concept to meet the requirements of the grant application.”

The article passed with a majority vote.

Two articles were also passed regarding proposed repair work at the Spring Street Elementary School. A school building committee will be established to oversee upgrades to the school, which includes replacing the roof and window curtains.

The approximate cost of the repairs is estimated at $1 million, 50 percent of which would be covered by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Green Repair Program.

Article 10 asked for approval of the transfer of $50,000 from Free Cash to conduct a feasibility study concerning the repairs needed at that school. 50 percent of those expenses would be covered by the MSBA as well.

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=8783

Posted by on Jan 28 2011. Filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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