Two possible plans for new Southington library

SOUTHINGTON — Renovate and expand the existing library or build a brand new one on the same site?

Those are the options before a library planning group which must weigh the pros and cons and make a recommendation.

While there are still questions about both proposals, the biggest being cost, architectural plans released by the planning group show the location and layout of each proposal.

Library officials say the current building, dating from the 1970s, isn’t big enough and doesn’t meet safety and handicap access requirements.

Jeffrey Hoover of Tappé Architects drew up plans for a brand new building on the southern portion of the property as well as for a renovation and expansion of the existing library.

Renovate and expand

The addition option for the Southington Public Library.

In addition to reconfiguring the existing library and changing the exterior, Hoover’s plans show a large addition to the east.

This proposal reuses the existing building and will have an additional 1,000 square feet of storage space, according to Kevin Curtiss, library board chairman. Renovations will be extensive.

“There’s going to be a totally different layout,” Curtiss said. “You’re using the bones, but it’ll be all new heating, air conditioning, electrical, everything.”

Renovating and expanding also keeps the library where it is at the corner of Meriden Avenue and Main Street.

“The library would have a very visible spot in the community. It’s seen as the entry way to one end of downtown Southington,” Curtiss said.

Stephen Giudice, owner of local planning firm Harry E. Cole & Son, is a member of the library planning committee. He advocated for the renovation proposal.

“From a planning perspective, you really want the building at the corner,” Giudice said.

The addition option for the Southington Public Library.

Keeping the library open during construction would mean building the addition, moving the collection to the addition, finishing renovations on the existing building and then moving a portion of the collection back into the renovated area. All that extends the disruption period for patrons. With a new building, the existing library would continue to operate until it’s time to move.

“Everything gets built and you only have to move once,” Curtiss said.

Build new

The new building option for the Southington Public Library.

Easing the transition is one argument for building new. Construction on the new building would be underway while the existing library would be completely available.

Once the new building is finished, the old one would be demolished. To avoid parking filling the corner of Meriden Avenue and Main Street, Hoover suggested a landscaped green square roughly the footprint of the existing building.

While not on the corner, Curtiss said a new building to the south would still be very visible. There’d still be driveways on both Meriden Avenue and Main Street.

The new building option for the Southington Public Library.

“I think the new building will still offer some really nice views. I think it’s still going to be easy to access,” he said.


Hoover designed both buildings to meet the anticipated needs and they’re roughly equivalent in useable space.

While a new building would avoid the costs of renovation, the expansion plan would use some existing materials. Hoover expected the costs to be about the same, although he doesn’t yet have cost estimates.

The library planning group plans to meet for the last time on March 2 and decide on a recommendation to the Town Council.

Curtiss hasn’t yet decided between the proposals.

“I go back and forth between the two,” he said. “Either way, I think this new library is going to be a new asset to the community.”
Twitter: @JBuchananRJ


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