Committee flips library vote

MILFORD – The town’s Advisory Budget Commit­tee is now recommending the town build a new pub­lic library.

The committee, which had originally voted against the $5.6 million plan, took another vote the day after the town De­liberative Session, and this time the tally was 7-2 in favor.

The original vote was 6-3 against.

Jim Roccio, one of the four committee members who changed their vote, said he was persuaded by the library trustees’ pre­sentation at the Delibera­tive Session that showed how long the town has needed a new facility and how much work had gone into planning. Over the years, six architects have prepared 12 plans.

"I felt it was time we get it over with," he said. "We’ve been kicking it down the road since 1998."

Wadleigh Memorial Li­brary Director Michelle Sampson said Monday she and the library trust­ees are "very, very happy" with the vote.

Budget Committee members Peg Seward and Karen Mitchell were the only ones who stuck with their original no votes.

Seward, who called it a difficult decision, said she isn’t sure the town needs a 21,000-squarefoot library. She said she wonders whether a new library could be built in segments to ease the tax burden. She also questions the building’s design and location. "In 1945, it was a great location," Seward said, but she said the downtown may be too congested now. At the Deliberative Session, no one argued that a new library building isn’t needed. But selectmen, who voted 4-1 against the plan, said the bond would put too much of a burden on taxpayers at this time.

This is the second year the proposal has been on the ballot, but library trustees have been planning for a new building for nearly two decades. They say the facility is outdated, too small for the population it serves, and needs numerous expensive repairs and replacement systems that would cost millions of dollars.

An open house and tour of the building will be held Sunday, Feb. 21. Voting day is Tuesday, March 8. The Advisory Budget Committee also reversed its vote to fund the Pumpkin Festival. Its original 5-4 no vote is now a 6-3 yes vote.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@cabinet.com.