Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Library's new chapter - Leominster celebrates construction
Matthew Bruun, Worcester Telegram & Gazette, January
LEOMINSTER - While the Leominster Public Library's
massive addition is still a year away from opening, much
celebration took place at the construction site yesterday
Officials held a "topping off" ceremony, at which library
backers signed their names to one of the last steel beams to
be installed in the 35,000-square-foot addition on Pearl
Rod Schaffter brought his 3-year-old daughter, Lucy, so she
could look at the edifice in future years and know she was
there when it began.
"It's really nice to see this come to fruition," Mr.
Schaffter said. He is the moderator at the neighboring
Pilgrim Congregational Church, which has worked with the
library in sharing parking space during the project.
A small, fresh-cut evergreen was attached to the beam that
bore signatures of library trustees, building committee
members, city councilors and other guests.
Keith Alderman, minister at the Pilgrim Congregational
Church, said the tree was part of a tradition that began in
"It's to bless the construction and bless the workers," he
said, noting that trees used to be put on the masts of ships
as they were built.
Mark C. Bodanza, chairman of the Library Building Committee,
was among the many signers of the beam before it was
With the old addition demolished, the sprawling steel
skeleton of the new construction is giving residents and
passers-by a sense of the scope of the revamped library,
which is expected to open its doors to the public in early
"It's obviously exciting now that it's got three dimensions
and it's out of the ground," Mr. Bodanza said. "Once you
have a visual it tends to develop a burst of excitement."
Library officials hope that buzz will translate into
A major capital fundraising campaign has begun, with a
target of $1.2 million for the project. The fundraising
campaign is co-chaired by Leominster Credit Union President
and Chief Executive Officer John R. Caulfield and Building
Committee member Susan Chalifoux Zephir.
The cost of the project is just under $12.2 million, with
almost $11 million being covered by a local bond of $7.8
million, a $3 million grant from the state, $109,000 in
library trust funds and more than $53,000 in miscellaneous
The fundraising campaign is being held to close the $1.2
million shortfall between the funds raised so far and the
More than 20 percent of the $1.2 million goal has already
been reached, Library Director Susan T. Shelton said.
Carol A. Millette, vice chairwoman of the library's board of
trustees and a member of the Building Committee, said the
city will get decades of use out of the expanded building.
"It's very exciting, something we've waited a long time
for," she said. "It's our jewel."
Building Committee Vice Chairman John B. McLaughlin recalled
talk of expanding the library during his tenure as mayor of
the city in the mid-1970s.
"It's wonderful," he said, as people took turns signing the
beam as it lay before the construction site. "It's kind of a
dream come true."
The committee has worked hard to find savings on the
project, especially when confronted with higher than
anticipated costs such as asbestos removal and site
Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella sent a request to the City Council
seeking an appropriation of more than $42,000 toward library
costs, representing the inspection fees the city had already
collected on the project.
Those fees couldn't be waived since they had already been
assessed, Mr. McLaughlin said, adding he appreciated the
mayor's help in getting the money put back into the project.
Mr. Mazzarella said he knew that some costs had risen for
the project since its inception, including the price of
steel. Channeling the inspection charges back into the
project should help the construction stay on budget, he
"They're going to need it," Mr. Mazzarella said.
City Councilors Claire M. Freda, James J. Lanciani Jr. and
Dennis A. Rosa were also on hand to sign the beam yesterday.
"It's just a great feeling," Mrs. Freda said, adding she was
happy to see children at the event. "This is what we did it
for, the future of our community."
Though the role of libraries has changed over the years,
Mrs. Freda said they provide a critical public service that
is worth the investment.
"It's such a core piece of the community," she said.
City leaders have long voiced hopes the expanded library
will be a catalyst for growth in the neighborhood off the
main downtown corridor.