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?