Photo: Architectural drawing of the new Belmont Public Library along Concord Avenue (Oudens Ello Architecture)
After waiting in line for years behind other capital projects, advocates for a new Belmont Public Library building received the support of the town’s three-member Select Board for the project to be placed before voters on the November 2022 election.
”Now it’s your turn,” said Mark Paolillo, chair of the Select Board during an update on the new library project at a joint meeting with the Board of Library Trustees. ”This is ready to go.”
According to the latest data from the design firm and the library building committee, the revised price tag for the new 41,500 sq.-ft. library is $39.5 million.
“We’re feeling comfortable that this is the number that we would ask the Select Board to move forward with and what the building will cost,” said Kathy Keohane, vice chair of the trustees. The bill for the project has seen a jump since Sept. 2021 from $35.9 million due to a $2.1 million increase in construction costs in addition to the building committee adding $1.86 million in what is called ”market volatility contingency” above the current contingency line items “which we felt … was prudent to include that additional safe guard.”
While the Select Board is scheduled to vote at its July 25 meeting to OK placing debt exclusions on the Nov. 8 mid-term ballot, the members are ready to put the project before voters.
“I am committed to the library being on the ballot in November,” said Select Board Member Adam Dash. “You guys have done your homework and that the library trustees have been very patient and letting a lot of other go first.”
“You’re welcome to come [on July 25] … and listen to our favorable vote to put this on the ballot in the fall,” said Paolillo.
Keohane reported community donations to defray the cost of the new library has nearly reached $3 million (currently at $2.86 million) from 850 supporters. Keohane noted the donation figure is conservative as there are “many folks that have told us they are planning to make a donation but we don’t have that paperwork.”
”We are also pursuing grants with businesses, banks, local foundations and very much open to any suggestions that people may have about the possibilities … [in addition to] CPA grants,” she said.
The November vote comes as the library’s popularity has returned to near pre-pandemic levels, according to Library Director Peter Struzziero. The 2021-22 fiscal year [ending June 30] is the second busiest books in total collection use in library history with more than 600,000 books and material used by patrons, only topped by 2018-19 with 650,000. The library has also expanded its mentor match, collaberation with schools and other and the return of One Book One Belmont in the fall.
”We had a great response to the pandemic. We were a leader in the Commonwealth and learning new ways to serve while we built new relationships with our patrons,” said Struzziero.