Friday, April 9, 1999
Town Meeting Approves Library Special Election on Tuesday
In less than one hour on Wednesday, April 7, 375 voters at the Special Town Meeting agreed to fund the proposed renovation and expansion plans for the Gleason Public Library, clearly garnering the necessary two-thirds majority vote (353-8). Article 1, the only article on the Warrant, appropriated $2,768,455 for the project; to meet this appropriation, $919,388 will be provided by a Massachusetts Public Library Construction Grant which has been awarded to the town , $360,000 will be provided by a gift to the town and the town shall borrow $1,489,067.
Now, a majority vote at the special election on Tuesday, April 13, is necessary to give officials the authority to exempt from the limits imposed by Proposition 2-1/2 the amount required to bond the Gleason Library renovations. If approved, the amount of the debt does not become part of the levy limit base, but is added on for the duration of the bonding period.
Town treasurer Nancy Koerner has indicated that residents would begin to pay for the project in 2001. The estimated impact would range from 25 cents on $1,000 in assessed real estate value decreasing to 12 cents on $1,000 over the 19-year bonding period. This translates into a range of $48 to $100 for a $400,000 house.
Library trustees have been racing since they were approved to receive the $919,388 grant from the state in September. They are required to either accept or decline the grant by April 20. Trustee Rosalie Johnson stressed the value of the opportunity by saying, "This is a chance that will not come our way again....If we do not accept this we will be at the bottom of 351 cities and towns. In addition to the grant, the trustees agreed to contribute $360,000 from gifts in hand toward the project and to raise $100,000 from private contributions for furnishings.
Pleased that a quorum had been reached by 7:10 p.m., library building committee chair Sally Swift said, "It is gratifying to see so many interested in this project." She then reviewed the information and floor plans for the project which she said is in its fifth year of planning.
What is the plan?
The proposed project will essentially double the net square footage of the current library by renovating the three levels of the 1895 Gleason Building (4,500 square feet) and constructing a 7,900 square foot two-level structure in place of the existing 1973 building (3,500 square feet). The result will be 9,000 net square feet of library space organized primarily on two full levels and supplemented by the multi-purpose third floor of the 1895 building. The total gross square footage of the project will be 12,400 square feet, compared to 8,023 square feet in the existing two buildings. The total net square footage will increase from 4,742 to 8,941. The building will be fully accessible for handicapped patrons. Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act consumes a lot of space.
Designed to meet the needs of the program for 20 years and beyond, everything will expand. Areas in the library will be distinct and increase in size by the following percentages: periodicals-65, adult-50, children-100, and the media (self-serve)-100.
Both the selectmen and the finance committee unanimously recommended funding the library expansion project. The board of health approved the septic system on February 16. ConsCom issued an order of conditions on February 11. Board of appeals approved the plans on March 4. The historic commission approved the plans on March 30.
Speaking for the selectmen chair Vivan Chaput described the proposed library expansion as "a resource for lifelong learning" and "a wonderful bargain." However, she said that residents should be aware of the requests which will be made at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting and election:
A three-tiered Proposition 2-1/2 override question for operating expenses
Pumper truck $304,000
School air quality units $153,700
Bond Municipal land $5,000,000
Bond Wang-Coombs $2,225,000
There were only a few comments from the audience at the very brief meeting. While Kerry Kissinger of Elizabeth Ridge Road commended the trustees for the beautiful addition, he questioned the cost per square foot. FinCom chair Charlie Parker responded that it worked out to about $220 per square foot.
Steven Kendall of Cross Street asked why 33 parking spaces were needed and questioned if that was the reason for the overrun. Swift explained that they would add more spaces if possible but the overrun was due to increased costs for engineering the site due to unforeseen grading and drainage issues.
As a former FinCom reporter and member, Nancy Pierce explained why she believed that it was prudent to proceed with the project. "It's a bargain....We're getting a dollar for every dollar taxpayers spend." Also, just to renovate the building and bring it up to code would cost taxpayers nearly that much. Lastly, she predicted that, in three to four years, the tax rate should go down as some projects are paid off and state reimbursement for the school project is received.
With no further questions, moderator Marshall Simonds commented, " This is rapidly turning into one of the most boring Town Meetings in 30 years."
As the positive count was being tallied, town building committee chair Ed Sonn closed with high praise for Swift, describing her as "extremely competent and extremely dedicated."
Providing voters approve the ballot question on Tuesday, the construction will begin on May 12 and is schedued to be completed by March 31, 2000. The scheduled opening of the new library is May 1,2000.
A bit of history
1992 - A long-range planning study was completed.
September, 1994 - Town Meeting appropriated $15,000 for architects to create a schematic design.
April, 1995 - Town Meeting appropriated $53,500 for design development.
1995 - The town's first grant application was not approved, but the state encouraged resubmission.
April, 1996 - The grant application was resubmitted.
May, 1996 - Town Meeting appropriated $130,000 for construction drawings and bid documents, but expenditure of the funds was dependent on receipt of the state grant.
September, 1996 - The grant application was approved, and the town was placed high on the waitlist for funding.
September, 1998 - Carlisle was approved to receive a grant of $919, 388.
April 20,1999 - Carlisle must accept or deny the grant.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito