Library board members forwarded their recommendation for a new building to town officials. The proposed structure would be situated at the south of the property. After construction, the existing building would be demolished with a small park replacing it at the corner of Main Street and Meriden Avenue. (Courtesy of Tappé Architects)

After months of planning, the library board has settled on a recommendation for the library renovation project. Recently, the board recommended that town officials build a new library while continuing operations at the current site. After construction is complete, the plan would include demolition of the current structure.

Plans have slightly changed since the library revealed sketches at public informational meetings in January. In order to save money, the new designs are slightly smaller. The project is projected to cost $13.9 million.

According to the library board, both options—building an addition to the current building or starting anew—came in at the same cost. The brand new building will be approximately 25,700 square feet. The addition and renovation option would have been slightly larger at about 27,050 square feet.

Director of the Southington Public Library, Kristi Sadowski, said the new building will be more efficient than if the board had gone with the addition and renovation plan.

“If we stay with the existing building, we would have supporting columns to contend with, and there would be much less flow,” said Sadowski. “It wouldn’t allow for certain areas to be the right size that we need.”

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In addition, officials originally had said the library would remain open during construction. If they chose to renovate on the current building. Sadowski said that might not have been possible after all.

During the public feedback period, Sadowski said many Southington residents urged officials the option to build a whole new library. Residents were interested in a “new, fresh” building. One resident commented that, as a taxpayer, he or she preferred tax dollars to go towards something brand new. Others referred to the renovation and expansion option as a “band-aid.”

Now that the library board has selected a plan, the board is expected to present to the town council on April 13. Public meetings have been converted to conference calls amidst the coronavirus pandemic, so the board may have to get creative with their presentation.

As long as the council approves the project, the library board will go forward with a request for a referendum. Taxpayers will have the opportunity to approve or deny the project on their Nov. 3 ballots. If approved, Sadowski estimates an 18-month construction period.

The state of Southington’s library, at 255 Main St., has been a subject of public discussion almost from the start. It was built in 1974, at the start of Southington’s population boom in the 1970s, but hasn’t had any major upgrades since it was first constructed.

According to studies of the facility, the current building doesn’t meet fire codes, and is not ADA (American Disability Act) compliant. There are currently space concerns, modernization issues, and the almost 50-year-old building is requiring more and more maintenance.

Tappé Architects was selected for the project in September 2019. The firm has worked on over 90 library projects.

For more about the project, click here: SO BL library plans