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Town may take library gift after all; Selectmen balked at accepting $30,000 for window sills.

Byline: J.P. Ellery

WEST BROOKFIELD - It isn't often that the Board of Selectmen turns down $30,000, but that's what happened this week.

However, Selectman Barry J. Nadon Jr. decided yesterday that he is willing to reconsider his vote and accept the funds. If so, that may reverse the board's decision because the vote Tuesday was 2-1.

Officials of Merriam Gilbert Public Library offered to contribute $35,000 toward a library rehabilitation project. Exterior window sills on the Route 9 building have rotted and a bid of $48,700 has been submitted to fix them, according to Mark A. Jordan of the board of library trustees.

"We can offset that by $35,000," Mr. Jordan told selectmen Tuesday "and we're looking to see what avenues of funding is available (to cover the difference)."

The $35,000 includes state aid funds the library has saved over the years and accumulated grants from the J. Irving England and Jane L. England Charitable Trust. Mr. England was the founder of Brookfield Machine, a former local company.

Selectmen Thomas H. Long was opposed to using that library money. He said the town has a building maintenance account and the entire amount for the library work should come from there. There is about $80,000 in that account and only $7,000 has been committed for other work.

Library Director Lisa M. Careau said $5,000 of the $35,000 was raised through donations specifically sought for improvements to the library. The money, according to her, must be used for that purpose and should be part of the cost to upgrade the windows

"We'd like to apply the $5,000," she said.

"I'm not really keen on taking money from fund-raisers," Mr. Long said, but selectmen voted 2-to-1 to accept the $5,000 and take the remainder of the money from the building maintenance account.

Mr. Nadon said yesterday that he declined to accept the remaining $30,000 from the library because he thought the money could be better spent on books or other materials for library patrons.

But he spoke with Ms. Careau yesterday and found out the $35,000 had been earmarked for the work on the windows. It had been set aside for that purpose.

"I misunderstood," Mr. Nadon said, explaining that he now would request that Tuesday's vote be rescinded and selectmen accept the $35,000 from the library.

Selectman John V. Tivnan cast the lone no vote Tuesday.

He said in a follow-up telephone interview yesterday that West Brookfield is facing a $300,000 shortfall in funding the 2009 town budget, so not accepting the other $30,000 was wrong.

"We're in a fiscally tight position," Mr. Tivnan said. "I thought it would be more prudent to take the $35,000 and fix the building and save the (building maintenance fund) money."

But Mr. Long said the town should not set a precedent by having town boards or committees feel an obligation to raise funds on their own for maintenance projects.

"The town has already appropriated the money for building maintenance," Mr. Long said, "and I feel appropriately the money should come out of that account without impacting various departments or committees to pay the expense."

NAME: WEST BROOKFIELD SELECTMEN
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jan 31, 2008
Words:541
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