Page 41 - Southington Magazine Issue 46 Autumn 2021
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cent in the years since it was constructed, the library can no longer support the needs of the community.
The current library building, located at 255 Main Street replaced a gas station and school bus parking lot. The 1972 Southington Library Building Committee said that with this Phase I construction “the facility would be adequate for Town needs for 20-25 years.” A Phase II ad- dition, which was recommended but never built, was touted as having enough space until the year 2000.
The former library, now the Southington His- torical Society, was built in 1902 with funding from Lucius V. Walkley, a dairy farmer and own- er of the Pultz & Walkley Company in Plantsville. It had a capacity of 6,000 books. A bequest from Emma Bradley Yeomans Newell, a wealthy entrepreneur who is known for her philanthropy and donating many monuments and buildings in town, funded a 1930 addition, “the erection of a historical building to be known as The Syl- via Bradley Memorial.”
Today, for every new book added to the col- lection, another has to be removed due to lim- ited space. Further, the building itself is in a pre- carious situation. Substantial work with a hefty investment is desperately needed to bring the building up to current fire, building, and acces- sibility codes. Making these upgrades will come at not only a financial cost, but a loss of pre-
construction of a new library facility at 255 Main Street, demolition of the existing facility, and re- lated site improvements, and authorizing the is- sue of $16,900,000 bonds and notes to finance the appropriation and to schedule to the public for a public vote on November 2, 2021. The citi- zens of Southington will have the opportunity to decide if this project should move forward, at that time.
In November 2019, a survey was conducted to learn about current library usage and de- termine needs for a future facility. This survey received over 1,300 responses and over 2,500 narrative comments. The response was over- whelmingly clear, the library has a noise and space problem-too much noise and not enough space. Combined with info sessions, sugges-
 FAQ: Why not renovate the existing building?
In addition to all of the mechanical concerns in the current Library, building new is more practical. It is much easier to design a functional and modular floor plan (important for evolving future uses) from scratch, rather than trying to build around existing supports and features. A new building will have
a shorter construction period and the Library can remain open throughout construction without the additional expense of moving.
 FAQ: Who uses libraries?
There were 202,680 annual visitors, 871 programs, and 226,476 physical items circulated during the pre-pandemic fiscal year 2019-2020. On any given afternoon, the tables and workspaces are filled with students and tutors, job seekers on the com- puters, children and families grabbing books, teens socializing, and community members of all ages heading to programs.
cious space. It is estimated that nearly 1⁄3 of the collection will need to be sacrificed to obtain accessibility standards in the existing footprint. The building’s electrical systems were never intended for modern technology demands. Systems, such as the HVAC and plumbing, are nearing 50 years of age, well past their useful lifespan, and require costly annual repairs and maintenance, including special-order or hand- made parts. The facility has been written into the Plan of Conservation and Development as not adequate for community needs through 2026.
On June 28, 2021, the Town Council unani- mously passed a motion moving forward an ordinance appropriating $16,900,000 for the
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tion boxes, and other methods of outreach, the Library Board developed five priorities for the facility:
• Expanded Space for Children and Teens
• Meeting and Workspaces for Individuals and Groups
• Acoustical Separation for Noisy and Quiet Spaces
• Full Accessibility & Code Compliance
• Efficient Building Systems
Increasing the physical footprint of the Southington Public Library has been in discus- sion among town officials, including Library Board members, since as early as 1995. The goal has been, and will always remain, to cre- ate a Library that will serve all the needs of the Southington community for years to come in a fiscally responsible and sustainable way.
For $16.9M, a new two-story library with a partial basement will be constructed on exist- ing Library grounds. This is a smart investment and will serve all of Southington for years to come. Southington and the Board of Finance have responsibly and effectively managed our debt and prepared for this project.
The new facility will provide a collabora-
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