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Tolland Library Expansion Project Part of Proposed Capital Budget

The project would add 4,900 square feet of space while making town hall completely ADA-accessible.

A project to expand the Tolland Public Library into the adjacent Hicks gymnasium is part of the Town Manager's proposed five-year capital budget.

Library Director Barbara Pettijohn said that the expansion, which would create an additional 4,900 square feet, will help the library better serve Tolland.

"Libraries are evolving from book warehouses to community centers," Pettijohn said. "For me, the main issue now is there's not enough room for big programs."

According to information from the Connecticut State Library and published by the Tolland Public Library Foundation, Tolland has less room than towns of comparable population. In a Letter to the Editor, the foudation published this info:

Town              Population         Library size, sq. ft.

Tolland            15,052             13,348

Ellington            15,602             28,000

Colchester         16,068              20,000

Seymour           16,540              18,000

Stafford             12,087             17,500

Suffield             15,735              14,299 

According to Pettijohn, the entirety of the project would cost around $2,378,573. The expansion project would include the construction of a mezzanine in the gymnasium and a larger program room, so lectures wouldn't need to be moved into the general library area. The current program room can only seat 40 people.

The installation of an elevator would also make town hall completely handicap-accessible, creating access from the back parking lot entrance to the second level.

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In addition, the extra space would allow the library to expand the space for young adult materials and create small tutoring rooms out of current office space, Pettijohn said.

Town Manager Steven Werbner said that a variety of library expansion projects have been brought foward over the years, including a proposal to construct an entirely new building.

He said that he is aiming to secure around $900,000 in grants for the expansion and to bond the remaining $1.7 million in costs. A referendum on the borrowing would need to be held, potentially in November 2013, to allow the town to bond for the project.

According to the Tolland Public Library Foundation letter, Werbner told the foundation, " the project’s cost will have a minimal impact on the town’s debt burden and will not require an increase in the tax rate."

"This seems to be a cost-effective way to address the library's future space needs," Werbner said to Tolland Patch.

If the project and bonding is approved, Pettijohn said that construction would begin in 2014-2015.

A public hearing on the capital budget will be held on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. in town hall.

John Durand February 02, 2013 at 07:14 PM
The library has been an "issue" for many years. Expansion into the gym, provided it does not close the door to expansion needs of town govt., makes sense. Perhaps parker can be utilized for ancillary govt. departments leaving town hall solely for primary function departments. We should have built a new library as part of the new HS, however, the admin. said it would complicate financing. Bolderdash! But that was then, and this is now. I personally see this as a much more prudent "investment" than a stand alone building. Especially considering the recent renovations and geothermal installation. Much more prudent than spending on night lights and turf so we can rent the stadium and track to out of towners as a "revenue stream". I do not agree with Mr. Werbner's statement " the project’s cost will have a minimal impact on the town’s debt burden and will not require an increase in the tax rate." in that debt burden is built into the tax rate and is only a delay mechanism in terms of when money exits our pockets. It may not cause the current rate to rise, but it sure is not free. Same for State grant monies which come out of our other pocket. So let's just say some expenditures are "investments" and necessary, while others are niceties which have no justification in a down economy. We need to chose wisely. John Durand
Jim G. February 02, 2013 at 07:50 PM
The town has a relatively new technology advisory board that is looking at the phone, tech and IT structure of both the town and the schools, including emergency services, the library and more. Its recommendations will be seen in the upcoming budget. Before anyone jumps on this, its members, too, are unpaid appointees, and none of them have a financial interest in any recommendations or purchases.
Jim G. February 02, 2013 at 07:52 PM
Of course not, but it's the decision we elected them to make. Throwing in a "...because my party's not in power" slap is just gratuitous.
mark bradnan February 03, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Relax Jim G. Thanks John.
Kate Farrish February 07, 2013 at 03:03 PM
As Jim G. said, the Foundation members are unpaid. Irene will not benefit personally from this project.

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