Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Leominster hoping to break ground on library expansion in
By Lisa Guerriero,
Sentinel & Enterprise, February 17, 2004
LEOMINSTER-- The planned expansion of the Leominster Public
Library calls for the historical section of the building at
30 West St. to be preserved, said a member of the building
John McLaughlin, a building committee member and a former
city mayor and city councilor, said the building will double
in size, from roughly 21,000 square feet to 44,513 square
feet. "The library hasn't really changed in a lot of years,
and it's open almost seven days week with the activities,"
McLaughlin said. "They're strapped for room. They're doing
an excellent job, but it's very, very difficult because
they're restrained by square footage." An average of 3,000
patrons visit the library weekly, according to the library
The oldest section of the facility was built in 1910 and is
listed on the National Historic Register. "We would keep the
oldest part and demolish the part that was built in the
1960s," McLaughlin said, noting the younger section would be
costly to bring up to code.
City councilors voted unanimously last summer to approve the
expansion, which is projected to cost more than $11 million.
A grant from the state will provide a little more than $3
million for the project, with the rest to be generated
through fund-raising and loans.
Beacon Architectural Associates of Boston is expected to
complete the design for the expanded facility by the end of
the summer, at a cost of $770,000. McLaughlin hopes to put
plans out to bid and award a contract by the end of summer,
in time to break ground before winter. "We want to start
right now and get our footings in before the cold weather,
so they can start construction," McLaughlin said.
The new facility will include an auditorium with seating for
120 people and rooms for technology.
Construction will take about 18 months, and the finished
building will include entrances on Pearl Street and West
Street. Parking will be increased from 24 to 65 adjacent
spaces. During the 16 months of construction, the library
will have to find a temporary home. "So far, there are no
takers," McLaughlin said, noting the temporary space would
have to accommodate the weight of books and other library
collections. Meredith Foley, assistant to Library Director
Susan Shelton, is heading up the subcommittee charged with
finding the library a temporary home away from home.
McLaughlin said the project has been in the works for years.
He acquired some land for the expansion during his tenure as
mayor in the mid-1970s. "I figured some at point in time we
could utilize it -- the city was growing, and so forth," he
said. The city purchased additional properties near the
library in 2001 and 2002. Two houses on these plots will be
torn down to accommodate the library project.
McLaughlin said the library is an important component in
attracting people downtown. "I'm a great believer in things
being built downtown. Downtown is more or less for churches
and municipal services; with shopping malls and so forth,
business has moved," McLaughlin said. "Leominster downtown
has shaped up well. It's looking better all the time."
Besides McLaughlin and Shelton, the library building
committee includes Library Trustee Robert Allen, community
member Susan Chalifoux, Leominster Purchasing Agent Gregory
Chapdelaine, Attorney Mark Bodanza, FSC Engineering
Professor Jim Andrews and several members of the Library
Board of Trustees.