Library's Expansion  | Newspaper Articles

Addition by subtraction at library

Robert Burgess, Sentinel & Enterprise, September 28, 2005

LEOMINSTER -- Spectators peered through the metal fence surrounding the public library's West Street grounds to watch the 1966 addition begin crashing to the ground Tuesday.

While viewers said they were excited to see the structure come down -- the early stages of a $10.8 million renovation of the 30 West St., facility -- few were disappointed to see it go.

"It's been a white elephant for some time," said Gilbert Tremblay, chairman of the Library Board of Trustees. "This is one time you can say destruction is a constructive move."

The 1966 addition -- which outlived its design to serve the community for 20 years -- should be fully demolished by the end of the week, according to library director Susan Shelton.

"I don't have any particular sentimental attachment to it," Shelton said of the addition, which faced Pearl Street until this week.

Fontaine Brothers Inc., the project's general contractors based out of Springfield, worked carefully Tuesday with heavy construction equipment to tear out portions of the grey-bricked addition without harming the original 1910 library that faces West Street.

Plans for the new library, which will take 15 months to complete, call for restoration of the original structure, which was built with seed money from Andrew Carnegie -- a millionaire industrialist, philanthropist and early supporter of free public libraries.

"I think the incorporation of the old building will make it worthwhile," said Mark Bodanza, chairman of the library's building committee.

While watching a construction vehicle tear down bricks and steel, Bodanza recalled being 10 years old when the 1966 addition opened.

"I have even greater memories of the 1910 building," he said. "We wanted to create a space where the old is compatible with the new."

Mayor Dean Mazzarella said the new library will be an important component in the historic downtown of the city.

"It's vital not only for the downtown area but to the surrounding streets," the mayor said as he watched the demolition. "We get a library. They get a whole neighborhood."

Mazzarella watched the library addition come down while talking with Joseph Fraticelli, whose 40 West St. accounting office sits next door to the library.

Fraticelli said he sold the now demolished two-family home he also owned adjacent to the library to help provide more space for the new facility.

"It's a project that going to help us all," Fraticelli said, adding that the noise of construction is a "small price to pay" for a new library. "Once it gets done, it should beautify the entire neighborhood."

The new two-and-a-half-floor facility will more than double the library's space to 44,513 square feet.

The state Board of Library Commissioners has agreed to pay $3,021,441 for the project. The city will pay $7.8 million.

Library officials still need to privately raise additional money to pay for furniture, fixtures and equipment.

The library will remain at its temporary location at 690 Mechanic St. until the West Street facility reopens in late 2006 or early 2007.



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