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Library vote set for March.

Byline: Michael Kane

BOYLSTON - Selectmen have set a March 3 date for a special town meeting, the aim of which is to bring a proposed new library to voters. A related election for a Proposition 2 1/2 debt exclusion has also been requested by Library Trustees, but no date has been set.

The new library building is proposed for Hillside, up the hill from Town Hall. That section of land has already been approved as a site at last year's town meeting.

Addressing department heads on Monday, Library Trustee Susan Therriault said the building would offer all of the services Boylston requires, including a community room. A similar internal layout can be found in Boxboro, Therriault said.

The new building is estimated to cost about $5 million and be around 12,000 square feet. The design would leave open the option of later building a senior center on one side that would share the parking lot and could be connected by a breezeway or similar structure to protect people from the elements. There is also a possibility of some shared utilities, Therriault said.

Some of the costs to taxpayers could be reduced by the efforts of a private foundation that Therriault expects to donate about $300,000, and is expected to seek grants for further funding the project. The group had a grant writer already lined up in the past, but could not apply for any money because of the stalled renovation project.

Plans to renovate the current library met their end deep in the permitting process after trustees could not get all of the required waivers needed from the Zoning Board of Appeals to expand the current building in the center of town.

Trustees were on the fast track for the new project, hoping to get approval at a fall town meeting, before again being stalled, this time by selectmen.

Following last year's election, new Selectman Kenneth Sydow suggested the town look at all of the proposed uses for the Hillside property to make sure the town is getting the most benefit in use and revenue from the property. That, Sydow has noted, is what voters were told would happen when the property was purchased from Compaq/Digital in the 1990s. As a result, selectmen asked the trustees to hold off, and ultimately chose not to call a fall town meeting.

Last week, however, trustees presented selectmen with their plans to call a special town meeting through citizens' petition in February. Since selectmen have a need for a special town meeting anyway, the two sides compromised on the date.

Monday, Therriault said calling the town meeting will benefit voters in two ways.

By having a separate town meeting, rather than proposing the article during annual town meeting in May, it will allow voters to have all their questions asked without also having to deal with budgetary issues and other articles that come up at annual town meetings, Therriault said. Additionally, the $5 million estimate given in summer is good for only about one year due to inflation.

"We feel that every month we wait is costing us more for the project," she said. "There is a financial impact."

Following an early March town meting, Therriault said detailed drawings and the building process should still leave time for groundbreaking in fall of 2008. Given a 10 to 14 month construction period, a new library could be open in fall of 2009 if approved by voters.
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Dec 13, 2007
Words:576
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