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Temple Would Support $2.1 Million Library

That money, along with $900,000 the library was bequeathed, could be put toward Oxford's new library on Great Oak Road.

 

Oxford First Selectman George Temple says he would support a $2.1 million allocation to construct a 10,000-square-foot library on Great Oak Road.

Temple said that would be added to some $900,000 that the town has from the estate for the late Miriam Strong, a lifelong Oxford resident who donated much of her $3.5 million estate to the town.

“What I said is that I could support a $3 million library and think the town would support it,” Temple said, adding that he would name it after Strong, a longtime Inland Wetlands member who was heavily involved in the community. “I think that price would be a reality. If you go in with the Taj Majal, it’s not going to happen.”

Last month, Oxford allocated $4,200 to town engineering firm Nafis and Young to look at the feasibility of constructing a new library on town-owned property on Great Oak Road. Oxford has been discussing a new library for more than 30 years. The current 3,000-square-foot library on the first floor of Town Hall was considered too small for the size of the community in 1978; the town, the fastest growing in Connecticut, has gone significantly since then. Town officials at the time had said the library would be housee at Town Hall for just five years.

Oxford Public Library Director Dawn Higginson has told Patch that the library ran out of space several years ago.

Many committees have been formed to explore options for a new library. Plans for a new facility have failed at referendums. In 2000, a plan for a new library and senior center failed by 47 votes.

A new senior center was eventually built, and now library supporters believe the time is right to construct a new facility and fulfill the town’s promise from several years ago.

A current new library construction committee had recommended a 20,000-square-foot library for $5 million. Temple said he believes that is too large and too expensive.

“There are some people on the committee who wanted 20,000-square-feet, I’m going to be up front about that,” he said. “But apparently the architects think this would be a perfect size and it would be tripling the size of the current facility.”

He envisions a homey atmosphere in the new library with a children’s area downstairs, and a comfortable adult section upstairs with a fireplace. He said electronics, such as E-Readers, would be included in the new facility.

He believes the library could be a place where parents wait for children to get of school nearby, pick them up and then walk to a nearby playscape that is currently being constructed. He also has plans for a children’s garden in between the two areas and walking paths that lead to protected wetlands where educational programs could be held.

“I think this is the type of place that would fit well into the character of Oxford,” he said.

The new library committee is still working on plans with its architect. Temple hopes to see the new plans soon and said he would recommend the project soon thereafter.

Per the town charter, this project does not need to go to a referendum, since it is less than 10 percent of the tax levy of the town. Last year’s tax levy was about $3.1 million. Whether town officials will choose to send it to referendum remains to be seen.

Would you support allocating $2.1 million toward a new library in town? 

JYD December 05, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I find it remarkable that the current library has done so much with so little for so many years. Everyone associated in the past and currently deserves the gratitude and thanks for all they've done. I think the time is definitely right for this initiative.
Ed Rowland December 06, 2012 at 12:15 AM
When I was attending Center School in the 60s and early 70's the library was part of the Old Center Firehouse which had been the original Center School.Two rooms filled from floor to ceiling with books.When new Town Hall opened with the new library in the basement I never thought the Town would ever need a new Library.Here we are in 2012 and the need is greater than ever.I feel this is the right time to move forward with this project. And namimg the library afterMs.Strong is fitting.Thankyou and Merry Christmas to everyone.
sue December 06, 2012 at 12:18 AM
The people of Oxford deserve a functional library. Programs for children and teens are very important to keep them in an educational atmosphere. Even though I have a Kindle Fire where I get books for free, they are not new books. I order my books which are new editions from my library. I am an avid reader of an average of 2 books a week, mostly from the library along with books not so new such as biographies, garden books, cookbooks, etc. Every town needs a public library to use and children and teens need not sit home in a room by themselves with an ebook. They should be interacting with their peers at the library. Sue D'Agostino
Janis Hardy December 06, 2012 at 03:56 PM
People often mention the Southbury Library, but I have always thought that something similar to Seymour's Public Library would be useful in Oxford. My recollection of the state granting process requires towns that apply for state funding to plan and build a library of suitable size to meet the town's needs for the next 20 years. While this 'requirement' might be the thing that George sees as exceeding the town's budgeting ability, we should consider that all the required space does not need to be filled with books or media, it can be meeting rooms, study spaces and rooms for other kinds of uses. Seymour's library has/had several meeting rooms downstairs with the media on the upper level, which they had to expand several years ago. But the meeting rooms were always available in the evenings for community organizations that needed them. Our Town Hall is always short for space these days, something that meeting space in a new library would solve. Anyway I remember that 2000 referendum well since it was during my last term as Selectman. A very disappointing loss at the time!
Me December 06, 2012 at 04:51 PM
Are grants even realistic anymore from the state? $400M+ fiscal deficit this year, $170M in cuts, and the rest looking of the debt looking to be financed on a loan. With on the horizon next fiscal year's budget deficit expecting to be twice as as large. I do not know all the particulars on getting grants, how they processed, or if they have relation to the state budget. But if are intertwined what kind if confidence level can one have on getting a grant? And thinking out loud here, wouldn't assurance (or great confidence) have to had before spending too much money & time in design before having to change it because the potential funding source falls out?

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