A close call - Gilmanton Year-Round Library may close – but just for April

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Children's Librarian Pam Jansury leads "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" with instruments and singing during Story Time at the Gilmanton Year-Round Library Wednesday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

 

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

GILMANTON — The Year Round Library is very close to raising the $47,500 needed to stay open for all of the next year.

With $41,228 raised so far, board member Jenn MacLeod said that if the library is forced to close, it will likely do so on April 2 and possibly reopen by May 1. She said the GYRL board will be meeting at 7 p.m. Friday to determine if they would close and when.

"We're one month shy of the $47,500. Hopefully, we'll make it," said librarian Tasha LeRoux-Stetson.

The Gilmanton Year-Round Library had petitioned two separate warrant articles on to the ballot portion of the annual Town Meeting earlier this month. The first would have provided the library with two consecutive years of operations money for some long-term planning. The second was to raise and appropriate $47,500 for this year only. Needing a simple majority, the second one failed by less than a handful of votes.

According to the library's website, there will also be a "community conversation" on Thursday, April 7, at 7 p.m., at the library. The goal of the meeting, it says, is "to begin the discussion of how to best fulfill the mission of the GYRLA." Organizers hope to develop a long-term strategy not just for funding but also to involve the community and make the library a valued resource for everyone in Gilmanton.

Those who wish to donate to the cause can do so online at www.gyrla.org.

MacLeod said that all of the library board members are genuinely touched by the generosity of the people who have made donations to them so far.

"We are so grateful," she said.

She said the library was where her two younger children went for story time and met the children who would be their friends in kindergarten and grade school. MacLeod said story time is for play and socializing, but to also learn early literacy skills, coloring and motor skills.

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Head Librarian Tasha LeRoux Stetson checks in books while Children's Librarian Pam Jansury holds Story Time upstairs at the Gilmanton Year-Round Library on Wednesday morning.  (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

To stay or move is the question for Meredith's library

Meredith Public Library 2016

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

MEREDITH — With a beloved but cramped building in urgent need of costly repairs, the trustees of the Meredith Public Library are faced with a dilemma and have turned to the general public for guidance in overcoming it.

This week the trustees hosted the second of two public meetings to sound out residents about the future of the library, which boils down to a choice between "rejuvenating" the existing building on Main Street or building a library at another site.

"We need to know where we are going, what we're going to do," Duncan McNeish told some 50 people gathered at the Community Center.

With a generous donation from Benjamin M. Smith, the library bearing his name was was dedicated in 1901 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985, when the citation described it as "not only Meredith's finest public building, but also one of the Lake Region's most attractive libraries." In 1988, a 4,000-square-foot addition more than doubled the floor space of the original building to 7,800 square feet.

Last year, the library counted 5,292 cardholders, a number representing 85 percent of the 6,241 residents of the town reported by the census in 2010.

McNeish explained that in 2011 a routine inspection found the building failed to comply with fire and safety codes, a judgment subsequently confirmed by the New Hampshire State Fire Marshall's Office, which led to the closure of space on the upper level in 2013. In 2012, assessments of the building by two architects versed in historic construction and renovation found that the library needed extensive repairs costing between $300,000 and $500,000. Altogether, between 2008 and 2015, the library and the town spent $419,710, of which state grants represented $100,000, on repairs and maintenance without overcoming the major the major shortcomings of the building, such as replacing the rear staircase and installing a sprinkler system.

Two years ago, the trustees formed a Library Master Plan Committee and hired Thomas Ladd, a library consultant, to project the amount of space the library would require to offer anticipated services in the future. Ladd concluded that 13,855 square feet, nearly twice the size of the existing library would be needed together with parking for between 34 and 69 vehicles.

McNeish said that in light of the condition of the library and the need for space and after canvassing public opinion the trustees decided to explore the costs of renovating and expanding the old, or building anew, and hired Lavallee Brensinger Architects of Manchester.

Ron Lamarre of Lavallee Brensinger sketched a vision of a future library, emphasizing that because it would serve diverse, changing and unforeseen needs, from providing information instantaneously to staging events, hosting meetings and connecting people, the space should be open to to reconfiguration. He estimated a three- or four-acre lot would be needed for a new library to match the projected need for space and parking.

Lamarre suggested a new 14,000-square-foot library could be built for $4.2 million, excluding the cost of acquiring the site, while the cost of renovating and expanding the existing library would be $5.6 million, with additional costs to comply with the requirements of maintaining a historic building.

McNeish said that the trustees have considered several properties, including the nearby First Baptist Church and Humiston Building, so far without success.

Jack Carty pointed to the town's aging demographic and stable population while suggesting that the library could potentially contribute to the effort to revitalize the center of the village. However, before offering an opinion, he said he would need more information.

"What abut the future of Meredith?" asked Jonathan James, a selectman, who referred to the committee that was recently formed to address demographic and economic issues facing the town. Noting the aging population, he asked "What can be done to change that?" and offered that "The library could be part of the puzzle."

Rhetta Colon, who recently chaired the board of trustees, agreed that it is important to ask what can the library do for the community, but, mindful of the urgency of the situation, she said "That building is falling apart," and encouraged the trustees to find a site either inside or outside the village.

Without consensus among the residents, Miller Lovett, a trustee, reiterated that the trustees have yet to reach a decision to "stay where we are or get to a new place" and indicated the board may next approach the Board of Selectmen.

Crash into car sends motorcyclist from Meredith to hospital

MEREDITH – A recent Inter-Lakes High School graduate was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident Tuesday afternoon at 6 p.m. at the intersection of Route 104 and Route 3.

Police reported that Nicholas Galietta, 19, of Meredith was headed south on Route 3 when a car being driven by Brad Potter, 38, of Milford collided. Galietta was not wearing a helmet and was taken by helicopter to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center with head trauma.

Police said a preliminary investigation indicates that Potter was on Route 3 and wanted to get onto Route 104 but missed the merge lane. It appears, said police, that he turned on his right signal, straddled both southbound lanes and turned right at the entrance normally used by drivers headed north to access Route 104.

Potter said he didn't see Galietta until he had started his right turn. He told police that he tried to straighten out his car but Galietta struck the right rear passenger door of his Ford Focus.

Police said they believe Potter, was listening to his GPS when he took the wrong right turn.

Neither speed nor alcohol appear to be factors in the crash and two members of the Meredith Police Department continue to investigate. Anyone who may have witnessed the crash is asked to call 279-4561.