Manchester directors want recommendations for a new library by May

·2 min read

Oct. 7—MANCHESTER — After months of work by the 21st Century Library Task Force exploring the feasibility of a new library in town, the Board of Directors this week tasked the general manager with presenting recommendations for the project by May.

In a unanimous 9-0 vote, the Board of Directors passed a resolution directing the general manager to "take all necessary and appropriate steps to recommend plans for a new main branch of our town library."

This includes detailed plans and estimated costs for construction at whatever site is determined to be the best fit.

The general manager also should recommend plans for the future use of the Mary Cheney Library building if it is not determined to be the appropriate site for the new library branch.

The general manager will present his recommendations to the Board of Directors by May 31, per the resolution.

"We all love the Mary Cheney Library — it's historic and it has a certain charm," Director Dennis Schain said. "But simply put, it's time for us to make a decision to have a new library."

In January, the Board of Directors established the 21st Century Public Library Task Force consisting of members of the Library Advisory Board and other members of the public. The library task force began going over historic documents, data, and comments from residents with ideas about what they'd like in the town's public library system.

"I'm really excited to see this move forward, and I know the task force has put a lot of time and energy into putting this together," Director Brian Marois said.

Marois introduced an amendment to the resolution offering a $250,000 allocation to the 21st Century Public Library Task Force, but that idea was ultimately struck down. Acting General Manager Steven Stephanou said he agreed with the sentiment that funding would be needed to help guide the process, but there are too many unknowns right now.

"I'm not worried about finding a source, but I would just want staff to have some time to identify a specific source," Stephanou said.

Other directors agreed with Marois' desire to allocate specific funding but also agreed it was too early. Mayor Jay Moran said it would be better to wait until the board knows specifically how much funding might be needed before allocating anything.

The library resolution states that the town should consider a few factors in developing proposals for a new library. First, the potential for reduced town operating expenses by relocating programs and services within a new library building or library site, as well as the availability of community space for use by the general public.

Opportunities for sustainable revenue generation to support the library's operations should also be considered when developing proposals, according to the resolution.

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