Library's Expansion | Newspaper Articles
Audience pleads to councilors to approve $1.3 million for
Matthew Bruun, Worcester Telegram &Gazette, September
LEOMINSTER - A multigenerational crowd made impassioned
pleas to the City Council last night seeking support for
$1.3 million to complete the renovation and expansion of the
But councilors also heard from residents concerned about
increasing property taxes and the effect those hikes will
have on senior citizens.As debate continued in the council
chambers last night, it appeared there was a consensus that
the $1.3 million was a necessary appropriation, but how it
would be made was still to be determined.
"We've been put between a rock and a hard place and I'm not
happy with that," Councilor Dennis A. Rosa, chairman of the
Finance Committee, told his colleagues.
The building is 80 percent complete, he said, and the last
$1.3 million is a necessary appropriation. But he won't
support raising taxes to make it.
"I will not put this funding on the backs of the taxpayers,"
Mr. Rosa said. "Enough is enough."
He then asked Councilor David E. Rowlands to share his own
Mr. Rowlands said the council was in a precarious position,
since other major building projects loom on the horizon -
including a new high school and police station - and
officials must be credible when looking to the public for
He said he resented the "eleventh hour" request for such a
major appropriation and criticized Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella
for not sharing more information with the council.
"That's not good government," Mr. Rowlands said. "That's not
checks and balances."
Mr. Mazzarella did not attend last night's meeting.
The overrun has been blamed ledge in the construction area,
the discovery of hidden asbestos in a portion of the old
building that was demolished and extensive water
Mr. Rowlands suggested an alternative way to raise the $1.3
million. He said the city should take $650,000 from the
stabilization fund, to which the council added more than $3
million earlier this year. Another $330,000 could be raised
from the auction of city-owned property near Sky View Middle
That sum, he continued, could be augmented by $200,000 from
the city's "free cash" or unexpended surpluses, with the
remaining $100,000 to come from the library's continuing
"The promise that was made in 2003 will be kept," Mr.
Rowlands said, recalling a pledge made when councilors
approved $7.8 million for the library project that local
spending had been completed.
Councilor Claire M. Freda questioned her colleague's
proposal, saying Mr. Mazzarella would have requested such a
means of raising the money if it were a practical solution.
"The stabilization account is clearly for an emergency if
the taxes can't be paid," Mrs. Freda said, adding the mayor
would have to request approval to dip into those reserves.
Further, she added, using that money could affect the city's
bond rating and hurt its ability to borrow for municipal
More than 30 residents were in council chambers last night.
Mary Jane Cuddahy and Peter Latchis suggested the library
consider charging fees for some services to raise the
Rollin Lane, a former councilor, said rising property taxes
meant he probably couldn't live out his days in his own
home. The city was forcing its seniors to choose between
macaroni and hamburger, he said.
Many speakers favored the project, however.
Paul Wolfe, a freshman at Fitchburg State College, said
library programs kept him out of trouble during his high
school years and set him on the path to being a published
Denise Labenski said she had saved thousands of dollars
through items borrowed from the library, and said its
resources had helped her own daughter in high school.
Jeremiah Greene called the library "a focal point of
intellectual fertilization in the community" and said the
latest financial request would seem insignificant when
judged against the long-term benefits of the library.