Library's Expansion  | Newspaper Articles

Library money finally OK’d
Rosa disputes need for bond
Matthew Bruun,  Telegram & Gazette, October 11, 2006

LEOMINSTER— Despite concerns about how the request ended up in council chambers, the City Council last night affirmed its vote supporting a $1.3 million bond authorization to complete the expansion and renovation of the public library.

Councilor Dennis A. Rosa cast the lone dissenting vote last night, echoing his stance from two weeks ago that alternative funding sources were available to cover cost overruns associated with the project without raising taxes through added borrowing.

“I say this to the taxpayers — show me the money,” Mr. Rosa said. “It’s there.”

Councilor Richard M. Marchand, who joined Mr. Rosa in voting against the loan authorization last month, was not present last night because of a medical issue, Council President Robert A. Salvatelli said.

The 7-1 vote last night represented the second reading of Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella’s request to borrow up to $1.3 million to complete the library, which is expected to open its doors in April.

Library officials and members of the public pleaded with councilors last night to support the request, needed to cover cost overruns related to various factors, including asbestos abatement and ledge and water remediation. Only one person spoke out against the appropriation during the lengthy public hearing on the matter.

“You’d think we never had a library,” Carol Kenyon told councilors. “This library was less than 40 years old when they chose to destroy it. We had a nice library before.”

The rest of the speakers implored councilors to support the project, which they said would be a community asset for years to come.

Councilor David E. Rowlands said he was bothered that Mayor Dean J. Mazzarella hadn’t taken councilors’ suggestions on alternative methods to fund the overruns, including free cash, the stabilization fund or more than $320,000 netted from the sale of a city-owned house on Page Avenue.

Mr. Rowlands said councilors had no choice but to support the loan authorization and said the proper level of checks and balances had been thwarted by the mayor’s tactics. Despite the mood among the audience in council chambers, Mr. Rowlands and other councilors said there was little public support for the extra appropriation.

“If I was a populist this would lose hands down,” Mr. Rowlands said, saying the city’s next priority should be school building needs.

Councilor John M. Dombrowski said he had heard widespread opposition to the latest request, but the project had to move forward and the city would benefit from keepings its stabilization fund intact.

“I know it’s not a popular vote,” he said, “but I do believe for the long term it’s in the city’s best interest.”

Councilor Wayne A. Nickel also said he wanted to keep the stabilization fund intact and voted to approve the loan authorization.

Councilor Claire M. Freda said she was concerned that the recent discord over the project was hurting fundraising efforts for the library, and expressed hopes that officials could provide a unified front in support of the building.

Councilor Virginia A. Tocci said she supported the original borrowing in 2003 and now, with the project 85 percent complete, she would not change her stance.

Councilor James J. Lanciani Jr. said he has heard from constituents on both sides of the issue, but supported the loan order because it was the right thing to do.

Mr. Salvatelli voted with his colleagues in support of the authorization but did not comment during the meeting.



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