Plans for new Milford library building unveiled

MILFORD – Residents got their first look at plans for a new Wadleigh Memorial Library building during an open house Sunday.

The project, estimated at $5.4 million, would involve demolishing the current building and building a new one that extends nearly to the Nashua Street sidewalk.

The library is considered too small, out of date, and with serious structural problems.

Joel Trafford, the library’s facilities manager, gave tours during the Sunday afternoon session, and Ron Lamarre, an architect specializing in library design with the firm Lavalle Brensinger, showed drawings and plans.

Trafford, who has been in charge of the building since 2003, showed some of its defects, including problems with moisture, flooding, ceilings and a wall that isn’t structurally sound. The addition in 1986 to the original 1950-structure was built by a construction company that filed for bankruptcy during the project, so problems went unfixed, Trafford said, as he shook the wall to the children’s room.

Windows in the children’s room are rotted and can’t be opened and panes sometimes fall out. In the reading room, panes in the big palladium window fog up, due to poor construction and have fallen out.

Several days before the open house heavy rains brought two inches of water into the electric machinery room in the basement.

About 25 people showed up during the two-hour open house. Three members of the library’s board of trustees attended. Several people “were wide-eyed” to see all the building’s problems during the tours, said trustee Sarah Sandhage.

Trustees began submitting plans for an expanded library to the town’s Capital Improvement Plan Committee in 1995. Along with the building’s defects, it is considered out of date, needing more space in the children’s room. The new building would have space dedicated for senior citizens and teenagers.

Larger and more flexible meeting spaces, a quiet study space, a section for after-hours use, and a business center are all part of the plans, along with eco-friendly and easy-maintenance materials and systems and energy-efficient mechanical and electrical systems.

Plans call for the project to be completed in three stages so that the library would remain usable throughout the roughly two years of construction.

The new 8,100 square foot addition would be built nearly up to the sidewalk along Nashua, then the 1980 portion would be demolished and rebuilt, and then the 1950 portion.

Lamarre had presented the board and library staff with three options that included renovating and adding on to the current three-story building and renovating the oldest part and demolishing and rebuilding the 1986 part and they decided the chosen plan would result in a better building that addresses all the residents’ needs for a library.

Another open house is scheduled for 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16.

Trustees are hoping plans will go on the ballot for the March town election. Selectmen are currently reviewing department budgets and will be choosing articles to put on the town warrant.

According to a brochure available at the library, the $5.46 million project would cost taxpayers $4.96 million, because some of the money would come from trustees’ funds. The tax impact would be 33 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100, ext. 304, or kcleveland@