Conceptual Plans For New Town Library Unveiled; Residents Weigh In
By: Mary Stanley
A public forum held on Tuesday night to introduce the community to the conceptual drawings for a proposed Sandwich Public Library expansion drew about 30 people, the majority of which were members of the library’s board of trustees and staff.
The purpose of the forum was to discuss the proposal for a 32,000-square-foot library branch, which would be built on three acres of town-owned land just behind the Pop Warner Football field in South Sandwich.
In October, selectmen approved designating this land for a new library.
The library’s board of trustees moved forward with the project and hired Daedalus Projects, Inc out of Boston as the project manager and Drummey Rosane Anderson Inc., out of Newton, as the architect to draw up the schematic plans for the new facility. Representatives from both companies were at the forum Tuesday night to unveil the preliminary designs, answer residents’ questions, and listen to what the community wants in its next library.
“We are here to work with you,” said James Barrett, principal of Drummey Rosane Anderson Inc.
Mr. Barrett went on to explain that the conceptual drawings that were on display were not intended to be architectural drawings and that they were in the very preliminary stages of planning this facility.
He said now is the time to make changes and for people in the community to weigh in on everything from the siting of the facility to the interior plans to the exterior design.
“The goal is to come up with a building that reflects what your desires are,” he said.
Three separate workshops were held within the forum: one that dealt with the design of the building and its interior layout; another that focused on today’s trends and how those could be incorporated into the library; and a third to discuss the site plans for the library.
The preliminary designs call for a two-story facility, with a large children’s room, meeting room, and even separate rooms for tutoring sessions. The plans also call for separate areas for technology.
People sitting in on the workshop that dealt with the design of the building indicated a desire to see a more contemporary-style structure that is appropriate for today’s standards but still maintains a Cape Cod style in keeping with the character of the town. Some questioned whether the facility should be one story or two and others suggested that some kind of outdoor reading areas or courtyard be a part of the design.
Within the workshop focusing on today’s trends, some residents questioned how modern technology, especially items such as Kindle, which is a device that allow books and other reading materials to be downloaded, will impact the role of the library and even the demand for a second facility.
Mr. Barrett acknowledged that there have been schools built that contained no library, anticipating that technology would replace the need for such a facility. However, he said, three or four years later, it was realized, that libraries are still very much a need in these buildings and in communities.
Other residents pointed out that events such as the Sandwich Reads Together program demonstrates that this community still values its public library and that the library is a community gathering spot, where the town comes together.
Resident Jonathan A. Shaw questioned the feasibility of funding this facility after it is built.
“Is there any town that has two libraries that funds them adequately?” he asked.
Former selectmen Frank Pannorfi raised a similar question about how the library could pay for staff at both facilities.
Mr. Barrett explained that the current facility, which had an addition built onto it in 1985, was designed to provide services through 2005. He said there is a significant shortage of space there now, both for users and staff members. He said the new facility would accommodate some of the staff working at the current branch, freeing up space at the Main Street branch for the rest of the staff. Essentially, staff numbers could stay the same, he said.
The decision to move forward with plans to build a new library comes on the heels of the recent election, in which voters soundly rejected a question to raise taxes to make maintenance repairs to town and school buildings.
But library officials are under the gun to move forward with the design plans if they want to be considered for a state grant that could fund up to 50 percent of the cost to build the facility. Jeanie M. Vander Pyl, chairman of the library board of trustees, acknowledged that now is not the best time to be asking voters’ permission to build a facility, but she said, “this is also not an opportunity we could pass up,” referring to the state grant. Ms. Vander Pyl went on to say that to even be considered for this grant, the application must be filed by January 27 and that application must be include the schematic plans and the name of the owner’s project manager. She said even if the town is not awarded the grant money in the first round of approvals, it could be placed on a waiting list and receive funding several years down the road.
Director of the Sandwich Public Library Joanne L. Lamothe acknowledged that there are still some major hurdles to clear before a new library is built. Ms. Lamothe said there are still a lot of variables lingering, including whether the town will even be awarded the grant money. Even if the state approves the grant, voters will have to approve raising taxes to cover the balance of the costs and that represents another hurdle to clear.
Ms. Lamothe said there is another a public forum scheduled for Monday, December 6, at the Forestdale School. She is hoping that more residents from the South Sandwich section of town will attend that meeting, since this proposed branch will most likely serve the people living there.
Before the forum ended, Mr. Barrett stressed that the schematic plans that will be submitted with the application are not the finalized architectural plans. “This is just a test fit phase, to see if all of the services that the town needs will fit into this building,” he said. “We are at the very beginning of the journey,” he said.
1 Responses to "Conceptual Plans For New Town Library Unveiled; Residents Weigh In"
Leave a Reply
In order to comment you need to be logged in.