Not too long ago, we offered support for a makeover of Southington’s public library, a building that is in dire need of an upgrade. Add to the list now Meriden’s library, which has not seen significant renovation since the 1970s and has areas, including bathrooms, in desperate need of repair.
There’s a committee set up to help determine the best way to move forward, and an architectural firm that has supplied the committee with three renovation options. As in the Goldilocks choice, there is one just-right option, but whether that will see the light of day depends on support and the major consideration of expense.
Any of the three options, which range in cost from about $6 million to just over $9 million, will be an improvement.
At the top of the list is an estimated $9.3 million plan that includes a 9,000-square-foot addition to the 45,000-square-foot library and also, significantly, includes much-needed updates to the Children’s Room, Teen Center, multipurpose areas and bathrooms.
Option number 2, at $7.8 million, does not add space but includes a complete library renovation.
Option 3, the least expensive at $6.3 million, renovates three quarters of the library lower floor. Though there are upgrades, the option does not include as many when it comes to mechanics, lighting and energy.
Meriden has been pretty thorough at approaching this decision. The process included suggestions from nearly 3,000 members of the public in a survey a few years ago. The first option best reflects the desires expressed in that survey. Other factors in making a decision include the potential for a $1 million grant through the state’s “Grant Program for Public Library Construction.” The nonprofit Friends of the Meriden Public Library is also raising money for the renovations.
Public libraries are a significant part of the foundation of a community. Members of the community have a chance to learn about the renovation options at an information session scheduled for June 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the library’s Griffin Room.
The committee is expected to decide on an option at a meeting June 12, and that recommendation will be brought to the City Council.
While any of the options would be an improvement, the first, most expensive choice is also the preferred, for the simple reason that it puts the library in the best position for the future. Community support will be the determining factor.
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