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Library climbing state list; Grant needed for $14.5M project.

Byline: Elaine Thompson

SHREWSBURY - The town has moved up to fourth on a waiting list for a state grant, needed to assist with a $14.5 million library renovation and expansion.

While the town waits to receive the grant, hoping it will be within a couple of months, the Board of Library Trustees has started a three-year campaign to raise $1.75 million, the board's share of the project.

Ellen M. Dolan, library director, said the state Board of Library Commissioners met in June with representatives of the 31 libraries on the waiting list, to update them on the process and the pending library construction bond bill that is expected to be approved by the Legislature and Gov. Deval Patrick.

"It's wonderful news. We're really pleased. We're still waiting, but waiting with more expectations," Ms. Dolan said yesterday. "The state board is very optimistic; they said they expect to see something by early fall."

Shrewsbury moved up from sixth on the list to fourth. The state board is also increasing its grants by 15 percent, to address inflation while communities are on the waiting list. Instead of the original $3,447,211 grant, the town expects $3,964,293, she said.

"We have not been idle while we are waiting," Ms. Dolan said. "We're in the quiet phase of a fundraising campaign."

She said the campaign is seeking contributions toward its $1.75 million goal from major donors, businesses and foundations. The next phase of the campaign will be open to public contributions.

"We're very optimistic. We have a lot to look forward to and a lot of work ahead of us, but we're very excited," she said.

About 35 people are working on the fundraising campaign. The honorary chairman is Cushing Bozenhard, a construction oversight business owner and expert witness in construction legal cases. Mr. Bozenhard is also a collector of antique books. The co-chairmen, both lawyers, are Mary Casey, owner of Harbor Law Group in Shrewsbury, and John Creedon, with Fletcher, Tilton and Whipple in Worcester.

The town still has to approve $9.1 million in local funding for the project. The town has shown support by approving the application for the state grant and preliminary design of the project in 2005.

Plans call for updating and expanding the 25,000-square-foot library to 46,000 square feet. A 125-seat meeting room, complete with a nearby kitchen and bathroom, is also part of the plan. Sixteen more parking spaces would bring the total to 62 spaces. Ms. Dolan estimated that groundbreaking for a new and improved library could take place in 2009 at the earliest.

The library consists of two sections - an architecturally pleasing century-old wing with a priceless stained-glass window, and a 1979 structure that is essentially causing major water problems in the building. When the 1979 wing was built, the builders were more concerned with aesthetics than functionality, Ms. Dolan said.

The new and old sections are joined by a flat roof. Both sections have pitched roofs that filter water down to a small flat section, from which water seeps into enclosed columns and streams into the basement, where the children's room and other collections are kept. Water streams behind the electrical panel. A plasterboard ceiling in a maintenance room has been replaced several times. The carpet downstairs is vacuumed with an industrial strength wet-vac on a regular basis because the floor is always wet.

It would cost about $3 million to repair the building and bring it up to code, but the town would not get any of the state grant and the amount of space inside the already cramped building would decrease, Ms. Dolan said.
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 24, 2007
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