Op/Ed

Community Forum: Support Ilsley Library bond

While the bond dollar figure may seem daunting, the library committee has been engaged in private fundraising and grant writing to source funds that do not impact the local property tax.

I’m asking Middlebury townspeople to vote yes on the May 7 Library bond not to exceed $16,995,000. This project results from an intensive, multi-year review of Ilsley Public Library’s building and programs and in-depth analysis and thorough consideration of options for addressing identified deficiencies, including repairing, renovating, and/or building new. The study, with significant community input, revealed a desire to keep the library where it is, but to remove problematic additions to the historic structure and rebuild flexible, congruous space capable of adapting to programming changes into the future.

While the bond dollar figure may seem daunting, the library committee has been engaged in private fundraising and grant writing to source funds that do not impact the local property tax. Likewise, the selectboard has identified another source of funding: local option tax receipts that will cover $4 million over the life of the bond. Therefore, we (the selectboard) recommended we go forward with the project subject to raising sufficient funding to reduce the bond covered by new property taxes to be $4.5 million or less ($39/$100,000 property tax value for a 20-year bond.)

For perspective on this, the library currently needs a new elevator, new HVAC system, and secondary egress to the third floor. This necessary work alone is around $2 million to $3 million and we still have a deteriorating old building with a leaking roof, a leaking foundation and problematic plumbing. Performing the maintenance work and not addressing the total problem at a time when we have significant donor interest, grant funding and energy efficiency rebates that brings our community cash flow to a manageable number feels penny wise and pound foolish to me.

There will be a public information meeting on May 6 at 7 p.m. in the town offices to discuss the upcoming bond vote. Middlebury residents may also wish to learn more about the library renovation and expansion by visiting the projectwebsite: www.ilsleypubliclibrary.org/about-us/ilsley-100-project-team. Questions about the project may be addressed to library director Dana Hart ([email protected]). The bond vote will take place on May 7 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the town offices at 77 Main St. (absentee ballots and in-person early ballots are available in the Town Clerk’s Office, Monday – Thursday).

Ilsley Public Library is one of the most used facilities in our community and with this investment will see further growth as programming and meeting space availability increases.

Please vote yes on May 7.

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Brian R. Carpenter is chair of the Middlebury selectboard.

 

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