The Smyrna Public Library Guild is making progress in their quest to bring a new, larger library to the Town of Smyrna as they announced last week they have signed a letter of agreement to purchase property in the downtown area.
The property is located on East Commerce Street and South East Street behind the town municipal parking lot on land currently owned by Joe Renzi of BCP Autos. The agreement, according to a press release, reserves the property for the Guild and will give them momentum heading into their fundraising campaign to raise money for capital costs of building the new library.
Library Guild President Jen Merrill is happy with the progress the non-profit is making towards building the Duck Creek Regional Library.
“We’re excited. This is a huge milestone,” Merrill said.
Keeping library downtown is key
As residents talked last year about a new library, some feared of the possibility a new building wouldn’t be downtown. With the Library Guild reaching an agreement for land behind the town parking lot, the new library will be erected roughly one block away from the current facility.
The land agreement is something both Town Manager Dave Hugg and Library Director Beverly Hirt are happy with.
Hugg said it was the desire of several people in town to keep the library in downtown as it provides accessibility and walkability. “A few of us were afraid it would end up out on Wheatley’s Pond Road or on Glenwood Avenue,” Hugg said. “It’s good to be able to stay in downtown.”
Hirt said she believes the new property will go over well with members of the community. “I love it being in downtown. I’ve always wanted it in downtown.”
Merrill echoed the points Hirt and Hugg made as some of the positives of the new location. Not only is the location accessible, it’s visible from Route 13, which Merrill believes will drive people downtown.
“A library is an economic driver and it will bring people to Smyrna to show off who we are and what we have,” Merrill said.
The Library Guild is working on a capital campaign to continue raising money for the project. Merrill said the non-profit was able to match the $150,000 provided to them from the state’s 2012 bond bill, which will be used to acquire the land. The proposed 2013 bond bill includes another $150,000 to be appropriated for the new library. Overall, the state will put up 50 percent of the cost of a new library.
The Guild is working with the Department of State in terms of coming up with long-term operation plans. Now that they are in the process of acquiring land, the Library Guild will put out requests for proposals for architectural designs. Plans still call for a 25,000 square-foot building. The current library is about 4,900 square feet.
Moreover, the group is always looking for more volunteers to help with the project.
“It really is an exciting time here. You don’t often have the opportunity to make a fundamental difference in a community,” Merrill said. “We really want to see people get involved to help us open the doors of the new library.”
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org