By K.B. Sherman, Community Reporter
Grafton – The Grafton Board of Selectmen discussed two requests concerning the Grafton Public Library at the board’s June 16 meeting. The requests, which would have to be approved by the voters at Town Meeting, were for an application for a grant to improve the library, and $150,000 for architectural plans for the construction of a new town library.
Library Director Beth Gallaway first summarized a presentation she had initially made to the board in May during which she had asserted that books checked out were up 28 percent, to 142,300, while digital items out were up 40 percent. The library entertained 64,377 visitors, up 35 percent, a number which was compiled by using an automatic door counter. There are now 10,755 library card holders, she said, up 27 percent, with 60 percent of card holders being Grafton residents. Last year’s budget was $523,830, just one percent of the town’s annual budget. The estimated cost for a library expansion is $9.6 million.
During a discussion after Gallaway’s presentation, Selectman Brook Padgett asked if the name “library” was still appropriate for what the library committee envisioned – a sort of town assembly place for various indoor recreational activities such as model building, knitting, and computer web searching, in addition to borrowing reading materials. Padgett also said that the town spends “freely” on buildings not usually open to the public (such as the Police Station and Department of Public Works) but not on “user-friendly” buildings such as a library. This, in turn, generated a conversation between library and town officials on how to engage those townspeople who did not use the library nor have online access to its website so that they would be receptive to its use and expansion.
Selectman Dennis Flynn said that he did not agree with Padgett’s “philosophy.”
“I talk to a lot of people and most of them want to know when all this spending on buildings is going to end,” Flynn said.
He added that he is often told by concerned Grafton residents that the cost of living in town just keeps going up, to the point where some in town can no longer afford to live in Grafton.
Selectman Bruce Spinney also agreed with Padgett in supporting the library expansion plan.
A motion was made to support a warrant article approving the grant request for the library. It was passed 3-1, with Flynn dissenting “not because I disapprove of library funding, but because I don’t approve of the town’s long-term spending plans.”
In other business Town Administrator Timothy McInerney informed the board that, despite the likely extra depreciation in the value of private property near the planned liquid propane gas storage tanks at the Upton and Grafton Railway yard, the town would not suffer a total decrease in property tax revenue because the other properties in town would have their valuations/tax payments raised to compensate.
The board had been scheduled to have a discussion with Jon Delli Priscoli, the owner of Grafton & Upton Railroad. But shortly before the meeting was due to begin, two of the company’s 120-foot-long propane tracks derailed near Grafton Common. The cars were being transported from Milford to a propane storage and transloading facility on Westboro Road in North Grafton.
It took crews, using planks of wood, approximately two hours to reset the cars. But once back on the tracks, the tanks then ran into another snafu as they neared the nearby Washington Mills complex, due to a small shed that slightly encroaches on the railroad right of way.
The railroad brought in a crane to the site Wednesday morning to adjust the tanks on the flat beds so they would be able to clear the building. The two cars were then finally successfully transported to the Westboro Road facility without further mishap.
The railroad still has two more cars in Taunton awaiting delivery to North Grafton. Those will be transported individually, according to a railroad spokesperson, Doug Pizzi, to avoid the problems the railroad encountered with the first two cars.