Architects unveil plans for Wadleigh Library

MILFORD – Last week architects revealed a tentative plan for remodeling and enlarging the Wadleigh Memorial Library, a plan that includes a terrace

on the Nashua Street side and a large children’s room.

Jason LaCombe, of SMP Architects of Concord, used slides to show three tentative designs, one of which they had settled on. Library trustees have a $3 million cap for the addition, which meant foregoing a brick exterior for the addition and a large adult program room.

“The children’s room is a priority,” said Wadleigh trustees Chairwoman Judy Gross during the 90-minute slide show and discussion last week.

The chosen design, which is still tentative, they call “Circle the Wagons,” because it links the two entrances. It includes a two-story addition on the west side of the building, with a large glass entryway and a small cafe in the lobby. It leaves the front of the building unchanged, except for the addition of a terrace on Nashua Street.

It also has a bigger children’s room that can fit 60 kids, sitting on the floor, said LaCombe, and a family restroom off the children’s room. There are also meeting rooms in the renovated basement, a teen area that is visible but can be closed off to block noise and a tech alcove for the 3D printer.

An improved HVAC system and plumbing and roof work are included in the plan.

None of the designs SMP considered had the building coming down to the Nashua Street sidewalk as had the one rejected by voters in 2016 and 2017. Some people objected to what they called its more urban design.

There were about a dozen people in the audience last week and one man called the addition’s light colored facade too radical a departure from the building’s red brick.

Rodney Richey, of the town’s capital improvement plan advisory committee, told trustees they will need to persuade people who vote but who don’t use the library.

The current design was developed after a “listening session” in April, when trustees and about two dozen residents talked about what they want to see in a new library. Architects said they would try to determine what the community must have and what it can compromise on.

In a 2012 survey, residents said they wanted a bigger parking lot, bigger children’s room, more bathrooms and a cafe.

One of SMP’s designs that was considered and rejected because of its cost was called “Spanish Steps.” like the Spanish Steps in Rome. It had an addition along the building’s east side and “monumental steps” leading up from Nashua Street.

The current library has about 14,000 gross square feet. The current version of the “Circle the Wagons” addition would add about 4,000 square feet, but at this point, say trustees, it’s all subject to change.

Final plans are expected in July. In August, Milestone Engineering and Construction, of Concord, will provide rough cost figures that will be finalized in September

Trustees are aiming for a ballot question in March 2020. If approved by voters, they would break ground in October. During the six or seven month renovation and construction the library will be kept open and be as functional as possible, LaCombe said,

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