Gov. Deval Patrick listened Friday as Shrewsbury residents and local officials made a pitch for a new public library funded with help from his $2.5 billion bond bill.
In a whirlwind visit to Shrewsbury, Gov. Deval Patrick listened Friday as residents and local officials made a pitch for a new public library funded with help from his $2.5 billion bond bill.
Shrewsbury has moved to number one on the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners' waiting list for a $3.96 million grant. The town had been in second place, but Auburn pulled out of the running.
The library expansion and renovation would cost $13.5 million. Plans call for demolishing a problematic 1979 addition, putting up a 32,000-square-foot new one and overhauling the existing building's historic sections.
Patrick, who arrived late, said little at the session, leaving it to local and state officials and residents to bang the drum for a new library.
“I appreciate the dedication to the library from this community. It shows it values the education outside of schools,” said U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-3rd.
Shrewsbury's goal is to raise $1.75 million through private fundraising. The balance will be made up through a Proposition 2 debt exclusion.
Nearly every chair in the library's conference room was filled, from children as young at 7 to senior citizens. Second-grader Sophie Chen said she loves to read and wanted to do her part in getting a new library.
At a block party, Sophie put out a shoebox and collected just more than $100.
State Rep. Karyn Polito, R-Shrewsbury, told the audience that Patrick's bill is wending its way through the Legislature.
“The bill is in Capital Bonding and Debt Committee,” she said. “The committee has already had a vote and now it will be sent to the House for a debate and then to the Senate for a vote. If it passes, it will get sent back to Gov. Patrick who will then sign it. From there the governor will allocate the funding.”
Once the bill is signed, Shrewsbury will get its $3.96 million, she said. She also talked about how much she liked the library.
“It's a real treat to be here. I remember researching and doing my book reports here,” Polito said. “It's an example of the community.”
Added Selectman Maurice DePalo, “The people of Shrewsbury love this library. The building has some (shortcomings) ... but the staff does a good job of what they do. The taxpayers are reluctant to move forward. We're just concerned about what the municipal government is going to do.”
Earlier this month, Shrewsbury voters shot down a $1.5 million Proposition 2 override that included money to help run the library.
Patrick said he is aware of cities and towns having a hard time raising money.
“I've made four proposals to relieve some of the pressures. They haven't moved. They might not move before the end of the (legislative) session. We're working on that one step at a time,” Patrick said. “You'll see all of us as a partner of local government.”
Since November 2007, 294 library grants have been awarded totaling $282 million to 239 cities and towns in Massachusetts.
Eighty-five of those libraries are using the money for planning and design. Two-hundred and nine are using the money for construction, expansion, renovation or special projects.
State Sen. Edward Augustus, D-Worcester, reminded the public that the bond bill is making headway because of them.
“What's happening on Beacon Hill is from you, from your ability,” he said.
Library supporters told Patrick about a recent program called “The Big Read,” in which children, adults, and seniors got together to read classic novels.
That was music to the governor's ears.
“To hear you say that you are reading classics is wonderful for an English major to hear,” Patrick said. “A whole new world is opened up from books.”
Before he left for the day, he reminded the group to do one thing: “Keep using the library.”
MetroWest Daily News