The town has taken another step forward in its quest to build a new library.
The Board of Selectmen recently voted to allow the Library Planning and Building Committee to seek Request for Proposals, or RFPs, from architects who can draw schematics and final designs for a brand new facility.
According to First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers, the RFPs will enable the building committee to find out what it will cost to have architectural plans developed for a new library site. The committee was established in October 2009 to plan a new facility, that officials expect could cost about $4 million, although specific costs have not been determined yet. Officials hope that an architect will give them a better idea of how much it would cost.
Drayton-Rogers said the proposed site the committee has settled on its located on a town-owned parcel of land on Great Oak Road, across from Great Oak Middle School and near Quaker Farms Elementary School. She said a Library Site Search Committee was appointed in 2008, charged with examining several prospective sites that could be suitable for a new library.
Several town-owned sites, including the Great Oak Road site, and a five-acre parcel along Route 67, were looked at and evaluated for potential. The former Oxford House property on Route 67 had since been dismissed as not being suitable for a library expansion.
The selectmen also voted at its recent meeting to disband the site committee, as its task has been completed.
“We want to thank them for their hard work and for taking the time to look into several sites for the new library we hope to have someday," Drayton-Rogers said.
She said $50,000 was placed in the municipal budget for library plans to be developed, but when the committee wasn’t ready to act, the funds were put into the town’s General Fund.
“Now that the RFP has gone out, the committee will find out what the cost will be for the architectural plans to be developed on the actual site they have now settled on,” Drayton-Rogers said. “The building committee can then ask the Board of Selectmen to recommend to the Board of Finance and town meeting that up to $50,000 be released from the General Fund for the cost (of an architect), or ask the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Finance put new money into next year’s budget for the plans. That step is yet to be determined.”
The current 3,000-square-foot library is located on the lower level of Town Hall, and officials said when it was opened as a temporary facility in 1978; the facility was too small for the community some three decades ago.
A new and larger facility is being sought to meet the needs of the growing Oxford community - Oxford is the fastest growing community in the state - library Director Dawn Higginson said. She serves as the library’s liaison to the building committee, and is hoping the town can build something that is at least five times larger than the current facility.
According to information posted on the library's website, http://www.biblio.org/oxford/, the need for more library space is increasing.
The library has added more than 2,000 new borrowers since 2004, and it no longer has much space to hold programs it wants to organize for residents, according to the site.
"People don't realize how much more we could provide them if we had the space," Higginson said.