New library proposal to be presented next year

MILFORD – Library officials are hoping to try again next year with a proposal for a new Wadleigh Memorial Library.

Wadleigh Director Michelle Sampson went to town selectmen Aug. 10 to tell them 2016 should be the year to replace what she called one of the busiest libraries in New Hampshire and one of the most used town facilities.

The current building has serious structural problems and is considered too small, out of date, and with not enough meeting spaces.

Sampson’s slide presentation showed people waiting in line to check items out and teens sitting on the floor because there is not enough seating.

In March, a proposal for a new library lost by a vote of 1,188 no to 953 yes, with a 60 percent majority, or 1,284, needed to pass.

"Local legend says it takes three times for a building project to pass, so we were quite impressed that 43 percent of 60 percent voted in favor. There was clearly support there," Sampson said.

The plan, for a 21,000-square-foot building costing taxpayers about $5.11 million, was the least expensive of all options studied and would bring the library up to the state average for square feet per capita, she told the board.

"We are small," but check-outs per capita are double the state average, she said.

Plans call for both the 1950 and 1986 portion of the building to be demolished in stages and a new building built nearly up to the sidewalk on Nashua Street.

During open houses last year Joel Trafford, the library’s facilities manager, showed residents the building’s serious defects, including moisture, flooding, rotten windows and walls and ceilings that are not structurally sound.

New energy efficient mechanical and electrical systems and maintenance materials are expected to save the library money, he said.

The budget process started this month, and selectmen will review anticipated spending over the next several months, took the library plan under advisement.

Trustees began submitting plans to the town Capital Improvement Plan Committee in 1995, and the committee recommended the plans this year and they were supported by the Budget Committee, but not by selectmen, who said it was not the right year and other projects, including bridge work, had to take precedence.