MERIDEN — A committee voted 5 to 1 Wednesday night to recommend a $9.3 million renovation and expansion of the library.
The recommended plan, which now goes to council for final approval, would include a full renovation of the current facility and a 9,000-square-foot addition built on an adjacent Catlin Street property.
The project would also expand the children’s room by about 2,000 square feet, expand the teen center by 1,500 square feet, add an additional 2,500 square feet in multipurpose space for meetings, add a cafe area, and improve the library’s front facade.
The Library Building Review Committee chose the $9.3 million plan over two less expensive options — a $6.3 million partial renovation and a $7.8 million full renovation with no addition.
Committee members felt the expansion and addition gave the city the most for its money.
“You’re talking about a $1.5 million difference between (the expansion and renovation). I think we get so much more for this,” Committee Chairman Carmine Trotta said.
City Councilor and committee member Brian Daniels said he believes the upgrades will attract more people to Meriden. “This is one of the last pieces to downtown revitalization,” he said.
The lone dissenting vote was cast by City Councilor and committee member Sonya Jelks, who objected to the project’s price and had concerns about it leading to future tax increases.
Library Director Karen Roesler said the committee tried to control the price by removing some items, including window replacements.
“This really is a very conservative, nice improvement to this building. It’s not the Taj Mahal,” Roesler said.
The city will apply for $1 million state grant from the state’s library construction fund, which has only has $8 million left and isn’t expected to be replenished.
If the city were to wait a couple of years, Daniels estimated the total cost would increase by about 25 percent, considering the lack of a state grant, cost escalation, and the additional bond interest.
“The vote really is not, ‘Do you do it now or do it in two years?’ It’s, ‘Are you just going to write the library off and let it burn itself out or are you going to do something?’” Daniels said.
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