Shrewsbury library officials optimistic about renovation funding
By Joan Goodchild
Shrewsbury – After an initial jolt of disappointment, officials of Shrewsbury’s Public Library are now voicing optimism about receiving funds to renovate the aging building.
On July 14, the town learned that while Shrewsbury’s construction grant application for $8 million in funds to renovate the building has been approved by the state, the town’s proposal had been placed on a wait list along with 15 other communities as part of the state’s five-year capital plan. There was no indication from state officials how long that wait might be, but it was not good news for Shrewsbury officials, as there are many pressing issues with the building that need immediate attention.
But just days later, Library Director Ellen Dolan was told by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners that the project could be covered under a different source of money, a current capital bonding authorization that was approved in 2008.
“There was a $100-million-dollar-bond bill approved,” explained Dolan, “and only a portion of those funds have been spent. So some may now be available to the libraries on the state’s waiting list.”
Dolan said while the news does not identify an exact timeframe for when the town will receive the funds for reconstruction, it leaves her with a more optimistic view about receiving money for the project much sooner.
The funds would cover a portion of the $18.7 million dollar renovation, which includes plans to maintain a section of the library constructed in 1903 and replace an addition built in 1979, as well as add on to the current building.
At a community “thank you” party July 18, library volunteers and staff handed out ice cream and balloons to patrons in a gesture of appreciation for their support of the library and the fund-raising efforts for the future renovation.
“A lot of people have been coming up to me and saying ‘don’t worry, we’re going to get this done’,” Dolan said. “That’s really encouraging to hear.”
Erik Basgard, a Shrewsbury resident who came to the party with his sons Noah, 5, and Kyle, 7, said the library plays an important role in their lives.
“We enjoy coming for books, video games,” he said. “It’s a fun place for them.”
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