SOUTHINGTON — Town Council members are again considering plans for a new library.
An effort to replace the aging building on Main Street was disrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak a year ago. Library officials had suggested a plan for a new 25,500 square foot building on the southern portion of the existing building's lot at a cost of $13.9 million.
On Monday night, library officials proposed a 30,000 square foot library building at a cost of nearly $17 million. The existing library is 21,000 square feet and inadequate in a host of ways, according to library officials.
In early 2020, library leaders met with Jeffrey Hoover of Tappe Architects on a new building that would meet current building and handicapped accessibility codes, provide more quiet study or work space, have more room between shelves and offer more program space. Initial estimates for a new library that had everything library officials wanted was nearly $20 million.
The library planning committee, led by library board member Joanne Kelleher, recommended a new building at a cost of nearly $17 million. Library officials scaled back their proposal to meet the $13.9 million figure included in the town’s capital budget.
They’d considered several options including renovating the existing building or adding to it. Last year and on Monday night, library leaders said the best option was to build a new structure and then tear the old one down.
The project must be approved by several town boards and commissions and then by voters at a referendum. Council leaders, faced with the disruption of the pandemic, didn’t put the issue up for referendum last year.
The library plan will first head to the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Finance for review. The public will also be able to weigh in at a public hearing the Town Council plans to hold in the future.