Library officials propose new Fairfield Woods building
Updated 5:05 pm, Thursday, April 5, 2012
The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday was given a presentation on the library board's recommendation to demolish the existing structure on Fairfield Woods Road and build a new 24,000-square foot facility -- an estimated cost of $13 million.
The presentation on plans for a new library was for informational purposes and no vote was taken.
The new building, according to the library board, is necessary to not only meet the current and future needs of patrons, but to address serious issues with a badly leaking roof, a basement that floods and compliance with ADA code. Simply expanding the library over the existing parking area would cost about $14 million, and renovation was tagged at $8.7 million.
But renovation, while the most fiscally responsible, does not allow ADA access to the mezzanine, limits the building's flexibility and offers no cost savings on energy use and efficiencies, the library board said.
Walsh was concerned about the cost of a new library, especially since there is still about $9 million in bonded debt to be paid for a recent expansion of the main library on the Old Post Road.
"We also have major financial stresses," Walsh said. "It's going to be a hard sell, especially when they see the tax increase that's about to hit." He said Fairfield actually has 21 libraries in town between the main library, the branch, the Pequot Library, the libraries at the public schools and the two universities in town.
Walsh suggested that perhaps the books on the mezzanine could be moved to the first level of the library, and the mezzanine converted into a computer center, with a handicapped-designated computer lab on the first level.
"Every part of the library should be accessible to everyone," Library Director Karen Ronald said.
The Fairfield Woods Branch Library was built in 1969, encompassing 15,000 square feet. A 3,200-square-foot addition was added in 1991. Plans called for the roof to be replaced in 2008, but then-First Selectman Kenneth Flatto cancelled those plans.
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