By Lisa Capobianco
The Southington Public Library is in the process of applying for a state grant that would cover the construction costs of its planned expansion.
During a recent meeting, the Town Council voted unanimously to support the grant, which is provided by the State Library Board. Town Manager Garry Brumback said the million-dollar grant would cover the costs of the construction involved in the expansion. The state grant is now available for both distressed municipalities and non-distressed municipalities.
“It is a million dollar grant that we would not have to use until 2017, and then could ask for an extension beyond 2017,” said Brumback. “It would go toward the construction should we proceed down that route, which now we have begun the conversations of doing.”
Southington Library Executive Director Sue Smayda said she will submit a letter of intent by June 6 prior to submitting the grant application, which is due this August.
“Depending on how much funds you are requesting, you could receive up to $1 million,” said Smayda, adding that the grant is not a matching grant.
Smayda said the library is well-positioned to apply for the grant. Built in 1974, the library is 21,000 square feet, which makes it one of the smallest libraries in the state, per capita. Smayda added that one of her major goals is to make the library 100-percent compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“We have everything we need to apply for the grant,” said Smayda, adding that traffic studies and environmental testing have also been completed in preparation of applying for the grant.
Council members expressed their support for the library’s participation in the grant, noting the benefits an expansion could bring. The library has been working with an architectural firm, which has created a design plan that meets the goals of a strategic long range plan. The plan includes expanding the children’s department and increasing the sizes of community rooms as well as other space for programming.
“I’m very excited about the possibilities,” said Town Councilor John Barry, during the meeting. “It was always hard for non-distressed municipalities to get grants, and now that they have expanded the pool, I think it’s a great development for our town.”
If the library receives the grant, the state is expected to notify the town in November, Smayda said. Smayda said if everything goes according to plan with funding in place, she hopes the project will begin by the end of 2017.
“We just can’t do any more with the space we have,” said Smayda, adding the expansion is needed to accommodate more families and other members of the community who attend the library’s programs. “We’re really great now, but we can be better.”