Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Trustees planned $2,000 party
J.J. Huggins, Sentinel & Enterprise, November 17,
LEOMINSTER -- Despite $1.3 million in cost overruns, library
officials had planned to spend "up to $2,000" on a "holiday
brunch" inside the new multi-million dollar library next
month, according to minutes from a recent Leominster Public
Library Board of Trustees meeting.
But they can't because the building won't be ready in time,
Gilbert Tremblay, the chairman of the board, said Thursday.
"This (was) going to be a reception for city officials, for
people who have made donations, etc.," Tremblay said during
The trustees met on Oct. 10 -- the same day the City Council
voted 7-1 to approve a $1.3 million loan to cover a
shortfall for renovating the library.
The trustees, at the Oct. 10 meeting, approved the minutes
for their Sept. 11 meeting, which included a portion about
"The trustees unanimously approved expending up to $2,000
from trust funds for this as a way of saying 'thank you' to
everyone who has worked so hard on the library project," the
The brunch was going to be for "trustees, staff, building
committee members, the friends executive board and the
library fundraising committee," according to the minutes.
The City Council voted in 2003 to approve $7.8 million for
the library, and the state contributed a $3 million grant.
The fundraising committee has so far raised $700,000, with a
goal of reaching $1.2 million to pay for furnishings,
according to the library's Web site.
At large Councilor John Dombrowski voted in favor of the
spending, but said it was a tough call because library
officials waited so long to tell councilors about the money
"No one was happy about that vote," he said.
Dombrowski expressed fury that people involved with the
library wanted to spend $2,000 on a brunch.
"It's outrageous," he said. "They should give us $2,000 back
so we can spend it elsewhere."
Dombrowski said he would rather see $2,000 spent on youth
sports, or to help pay for building repairs in a school.
Library Director Susan Shelton sent the Sentinel &
Enterprise an e-mail Thursday, saying the money for the
brunch would not have come from taxpayer dollars or
donations intended for furnishings.
"To imply that this vote has anything to do with either the
taxpayer dollars supporting this project, or the money
raised privately for the building's furniture, fixtures, and
equipment would be grossly misrepresenting the facts," she
She said "the library has 24 active trust funds currently
totaling $243,253.20, nearly half of which has been
committed to the library's expansion and renovation
She continued: "All trust funds were established through
private donations, primarily bequests, some dating back to
the late 19th century. The trustees' voted to use interest
that has accumulated from a variety of unrestricted trust
funds to host a small holiday gathering as a way to say
'thank you" to the many individuals who have given
generously of their time and talents over the past seven
years on behalf of the library's expansion and renovation
Dombrowski said he received Shelton's statement, but it
didn't change his opinion.
"Given the circumstances, it's just outrageous," he said,
noting that he and his law office have donated to the
At large Councilor Dennis A. Rosa, who voted against
authorizing the loan to pay for the cost overruns, called
using up to $2,000 to pay for a party "a slap to the
"I can't believe it," he said. "I'm taken aback."
City Council President Robert Salvatelli said he figured the
library officials would have some kind of explanation for
spending the money on a brunch.
"I understand what they're trying to do, and I'm sure there
is a lot of good will to it in terms of people helping out
the library, saving them tons of money," Salvatelli said.
"But it's still awkward."
Library officials have no immediate plan to spend the money
on the gathering, now that they have postponed it, Tremblay
Tremblay said one of the reasons for organizing the brunch
was to get potential donors into the new building, show them
how nice it is, and hopefully get them to give more money.
Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella, when first asked about the matter,
said he didn't know library officials had planned to spend
up to $2,000 on a brunch.
He agreed with Tremblay's point about using it to raise more
He also said it could have served as a morale booster for
volunteers involved with the project, because they had "a
lot of hard feelings" by the time the council finally voted
to approve the additional spending.
"They were made to feel somehow or another that they did
something wrong," Mazzarella said. "Maybe the trustees felt
they just needed to show them some good will?"
"It's not city money," the mayor insisted during a second
conversation later Thursday