‘What A Day! Supporters Gather To Break Ground On Town’s New Library [Photos]

Photo: Groundbreaking for the new Belmont Public Library

“What a day!” proclaimed Clair Colburn, chair of the Library Building Committee,speaking before several dozen residents, volunteers, town and elected officials who gathered in a gravel bed where, by (give-or-take) Thanksgiving 2025, a 40,460 sf.-ft., two-story zero-net energy structure will open its door and become the new home of the Belmont Public Library.

Under a warm and sunny Wednesday morning, June 13, the building’s future transformed from blueprints and perspectives to heavy machinery and construction workers as library and town officials turned over soil during the official groundbreaking ceremony for the $39.5 million structure, with $5 million offset from 991 individual donor contributions.

“We are so happy to be celebrating the groundbreaking of this momentous project with all of you. There is not enough time to thank everybody who has helped bring this project to fruition,” said Colburn.

For Kathy Keohane, chair of the Board of Library Trustees, it’s been nearly a quarter century of quiet determination as she was involved with three earlier library proposals that fell to the wayside. On Wednesday, Keohane brought her toy “olympic” flame symbolizing three important aspects of the project: the journey, individual performances, and teamwork.

“We are on a journey. We’re at this milestone,” she said. “Most of all, this has been a labor of love and effort by many, many teams, individuals working together to make this happen.” She noted the work of Town Moderator Mike Weidmer in creating a building committee “that helped us get the right individuals with the right talent on the team,” and from the library’s leadership of Director Peter Struzziero and his staff “for all they do to make the library such a valuable, engaging place.”

Kathy Keohane, chair of the Board of Library Trustees, and Library Director Peter Struzziero

Finally, Keohane thanked “the residents and the patrons of the library. You have made us the 10 best circulating library in the state of Massachusetts. We are the little train that could behind giants of Newton and others but it’s because of your love for the library and what it means to you.”

State Sen. Will Brownsberger noted that “this generation of volunteer leaders, partnering with our wonderful professional staff, has driven a program of capital upgrade and improvement or replacement that was just very fundamentally necessary to being the community we want to be.”

Speaking for the Select Board, Vice Chair Elizabeth Dionne said the library will be more than a repository of media and books. “Perhaps its most important service will be to foster an ongoing sense of community as town demographics change, and we seek means a greater connection and belonging. And the new library will allow this to happen.”

Clair Colburn, chair of the Library Building Committee

“It will also serve as a visible signal of Belmonts commitment to community, whether that is supporting young children in their early development, parents needing support raising those children organization seeking space in which to meet or adults of any age who simply need to see a friendly face,” Dionne said.

“It will be a lynchpin of the town’s completely renovated, academic and recreational center,” said Dionne, joining the Underwood Pool, a new skating rink set to open in 2025 and the middle and high school.

With shovels in hand and ready for photographs, Colburn was prepared to “look forward to an incredible future. Thank you again for your support over the many years and onwards,” said Colburn.

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