To The Daily Sun,
In 1938 the present Ashland library building was deeded to the town by Emma Scribner.
The deed specifies no expansion or changes to the building. The library is in dire need of renovation. However, (it) can't be expanded in the present location. This situation will increase in the future. Grants aren't available because the building doesn't meet current life safety codes. There are no sprinkler systems, and the second floor is not handicapped accessible.
The building is owned by the town however it isn't controlled by the town. The Scribner Trust and trustees manage the building and grounds. The library trustees manage the libraries day to day activities. The Scribner Trust and trustees have served Ashland well throughout the years. However, the day will soon come when the library will leave the Scribner building.
The voters of Ashland know well of the present library's space and code issues. This was on the warrant two years ago. In 2016, informational pamphlets went out to all local postal customers. There is no denying the fact that sometime in the next few years the town of Ashland will buy new library space or build a new library complex.
Article 4 on the Ashland Town Warrant asks the voters if the town should purchase Tri-County Community Action Program (Tri-CCAP) building on School Street for library space. This is an opportunity for the town. The library will have the space to move into the future. The building would be town controlled, out from under the deeds of the Scribner Trust.
I urge any voters not familiar with the Tri-CCAP building to visit during the open house on Saturday, March 5, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There are other significant reasons that the voters of Ashland should consider purchasing the Tri-CCAP building. These are not so evident, but are very important to the financial future of Ashland. This building would be much more than a space for the library. It would be a community space available to the townspeople. The third floor of the Tri-CCAP building is a dividable function hall. It would be open for community events with accessibility for all.
The proposed library purchase of the Tri-CCAP building would give the town space that could accommodate every municipal or school program that presently uses the Booster Club.
The Booster Club building that overlooks the ballpark on South Main Street is in bad condition. The building is old, doesn't meet some safety codes, and is operating beyond its capabilities. Over the years Ashland has renovated the building with upgrades that allow year-round use for the After School Program, Selectboard meetings, and other community functions.
If the town of Ashland continues to use the Booster Club for town functions and school programs, the voters may soon be asked to spend another large amount to replace the ballpark building.
The proposed Tri-CCAP purchase could accommodate all library, school, town government, and community programs to the new building eliminating possible need for a new Booster Club building. Returning the Booster Club to three-season use, or at least non-essential winter use, would give the building many more years of serviceability.
The After school Program presently uses two aides that walk the children down School Street, Gordon Street, and South Main to get from the school to the After School Program. Every day, rain or shine. More than half mile of sidewalks, three street crossings. The new library would be 50 yards from the elementary school's front door.
The Tri-CCAP building is located within our school complex on a piece of fenced property between the school and the gym. Ten years ago many voted against the town selling the building to Tri-CCAP. The town didn't have the funds to save the building, and many voters felt the building should be demolished to preserve the safety and integrity of the school grounds. Tri-CCAP, received a federal grant and donation from the Ashland Historical Society to renovate the building.
The building is now a beautiful, historically significant structure listed on the National Historic Register. The property should again be town owned. We shouldn't allow a medical building or any other businesses to become intertwined with our elementary school. The building is located in the best place for the library to become an asset to school programs, yet isolated by fences and gates that allow public use.
The cost of borrowing money is at an all-time low. The present library building doesn't fulfill the community's needs. The second floor doesn't meet safety codes. The basement is off limits. There is too little space, and deed restrictions prohibit expansion. Sooner or later Ashland will have to build or buy new library space. Money borrowed today will certainly be cheaper than in the future.
Sixteen cents a day. Most homes in Ashland average $150,000 tax value. The cost of the Tri-CCAP building would be 16 cents a day for an average home, $1.12 a week, $7.84 a month.
Many Ashland voters, including myself, grew up in town, went to Ashland schools, and spent hours each week in the library. In the past the citizens of Ashland have always funded the library. In the 1960s and '70s that funding supported me as I worked through the educational years. Folks that didn't grow up in Ashland sure enough had a similar library experience wherever they lived.
To me, it doesn't matter who the children or adults are that use our library. I see my nostalgic self in every child that walks through the libraries door. Ashland library patrons, young to old, are well worth my 16 cents a day.
I encourage all Ashland voters to join with me on Tuesday, March 8, to vote "yes" on Article 4 in support of the library.