Southington sets referendum for new $17M library

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SOUTHINGTON – The Town Council voted unanimously to send a $17 million plan for a new library to the voters for a November 2 referendum.

Library leaders made their pitch for a new building during Monday night’s council meeting. The goal for a new library is to provide a better and bigger building, more space for quiet meetings, a larger children and teen’s section and better handicapped accessibility.

“We are here after 25 years of discussion on and off about a new or expanded library,” said Walter Grover, a library board member. He was excited about plans for “a building that we deserve, a building that we can be proud off, a building that’ll last for the next fifty years.”

Grover said library leaders have been building support with local residents.

“They want signs in their yards, they want buttons,” Grover said.

Joanne Kelleher, a library board member and chairwoman of the board’s advocacy committee, said she’s also the director of the Early Childhood Collaborative of Southington. She feels the existing library is inadequate for families with young children.

 “The library is the place where they go to have exposure to other kids and programs,” Kelleher said.

The plan is to build a new library at 255 Main St. and then demolish the old building at the same address.

Council vote and concerns

The unanimous vote to send the issue to referendum didn’t reflect some councilors concerns. William Dziedzic, a Republican councilor, said he supported sending the issue to voters but had concerns about the $17 million price tag and its influence on taxes.

“These things have to be taken in context with the rest of the town,” Dziedzic said.

Tom Lombardi, council vice chairman and Republican, said the library board had done a fantastic job showing the need for a new building.

“I think we’re definitely doing the right thing by pushing it forward,” he said. “After tonight, it’s up to the voters to decide where it goes to here.”

During the public hearing Monday night, town resident Batiste Zgombick questioned the need for a new building. With the amount of research done online, she said libraries could be rarely used in future years.

“Is this really where we need to spend $17 million?” Zgombick said. “I just don’t see the need in this day and age… I don’t know if people are going to be going to a library in fifty years.”

Chris Poulos, a Democratic councilor, said there was a need for the building and had been for some time.

“It’s high time we update this facility. It’s long overdue,” he said.

jbuchanan@record-journal.com203-317-2230Twitter: @JBuchananRJ

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