By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
MEREDITH — The Meredith Board of Selectmen and the trustees of the Meredith Public Library have yet to formally give an up-or-down vote on a three-year plan for the renovation and expansion of the Benjamin M. Smith Memorial Library, but the lack of dissent on a committee recommendation puts the project on track for construction in 2020.
Ray Moritz, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said he is “quite confident the select board will support the plan, as I believe the trustees will as well.”
The Meredith Public Library Trustee-Select Board Joint Study Advisory Committee has recommended doing fundraising through next year and having Samyn-D’Elia Architects of Ashland do design work for the project in 2019 so plans will be ready for action at the 2020 Town Meeting.
The future of the library has been discussed and studied for several years, and the trustees were anxious to get a building plan on the warrant for 2018, Moritz said. The joint study advisory committee, however, persuaded them that it would be better to do the design work in 2018 and construction in 2019.
“We wouldn’t be ready with completed plans for next March,” he said, “and there’s also the public works proposal (for a new building). We didn’t want to lose two years, so asked that the design portion of the project would be funded next year, and build the building the following year. They wouldn’t start until after Town Meeting, and it would take six months to do the design work, so in March 2019, we’d be ready to go.”
Moritz said that, when the plan was presented to the town’s Capital Improvement Program Committee, that panel suggested pushing it out yet another year.
“The rationale, which was a very good one, is we’re hopeful that a portion of the project would be funded by a fundraising process, so they’d have two years to do fundraising, and we’d have a much better handle on what they could raise and what we need to ask for from taxpayers. As of right now, we don’t know what to ask for,” Moritz said. “It made a lot of sense to move it back a year.”
Conceptual drawings for the library call for renovations to the existing building and an addition on the back to provide the necessary space to meet modern library program needs, as well as making the building more accessible.
The design will preserve the historic character of the building, and the addition will blend with those features while also presenting a modern appearance.
Those plans are conceptual only and will be altered as necessary during the design process.
A conceptual drawing from Samyn-D’Elia Architects shows how the Meredith Public Library may appear after renovations and an addition to the building. (Courtesy graphic)
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