Library's Expansion  | Newspaper Articles

Leominster hoping to break ground on library expansion in November

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 committee.

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 Web site.

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.



Project Overview
Plans and Drawings
Temporary Library

Construction Update
Building Committee
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