July 12, 2020

Old Lyme Town Meeting Tonight Includes Vote on Town Contribution of $1.75M for OL-PGN Library Upgrades

A vote on the Town of Old Lyme’s contribution of $1.75 million for renovations and upgrades to the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library is planned for July 23, at a Special Town Meeting.

UPDATED, July 23: A Special Town Meeting will be held tonight, Monday, July 23, at 7:30 p.m. in the Meeting Hall of the Old Lyme Town Hall at 52 Lyme St. to consider a proposal to appropriate $1.75 million towards the cost of the capital construction project being undertaken at the Library by the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library Association, Inc.  It is anticipated that a vote will be taken on the proposal at the meeting.

Asked why the library needed renovating, OL-PGN Library Director Katie Huffman explains, “The current building was renovated  nearly 25 years ago and many of the mechanical systems are nearing the end of their natural life expectancy. These include several rooftop HVAC units, two boiler pumps, and the lighting fixtures.” She adds, “The carpet, paint, furnishing, and other finishes have likewise not been updated since 1995.”

Huffman also notes that significant changes have occurred in our culture and the way people gather information in the past 25 years.  The advent of social media and smartphones, the decreasing cost of technology, and a dramatic increase in publishing and the availability of information have changed people’s information needs.  She points out that perhaps surprisingly to some, “Rather than decreasing dependence on the Library, these changes have resulted in a 70 percent increase in reference questions since the new building opened in 1996.”

This plan shows the proposed layout of the main floor after the renovation is complete.

She continues, “During this time the Library has already added services, including one-on-one technology assistance, new e-collections, and more programs (a 90 percent increase), which in turn, are attended by even more people (a 140 percent increase).

Finally, Huffman says, “Input from survey and focus groups during long-term planning begun in 2013 identified opportunities to meet patrons’ needs and expectations better.” This means that many of the goals set by the library in response to those needs and expectations require changes to the library’s space.

The total project cost will be $3.05 million.  This cost will include both construction and soft costs, such as furnishings, technology, and shelving.  It also includes a built-in construction contingency fund.  Significantly, the library has secured a $1.0 million construction grant from the Connecticut State Library, thus dramatically reducing the impact of the funding required for the project on Old Lyme taxpayers.  Moreover, the library has committed to raising $300,000 through its own efforts.

The library is requesting $1.75 million from the Town of Old Lyme.  If this request is passed at Monday’s Town Meeting, the impact on the owner of a house appraised at $347, 200 is estimated conservatively at $24 for the 2019-20 tax year.  The respective number for a house appraised at $540,200 is $38.

The site plan of the proposed renovation which shows no change to the current footprint of the library.

It is anticipated that if the request for funding passes this evening, construction will start in early 2019 and be completed by the fall of the same year.

For more information on the library renovation proposal including the opportunity to view the library’s slide show presentation, visit this link.

The second item on the agenda for the Special Town Meeting is a proposed ordinance to amend the Town’s Harbor Management Plan.  This ordinance will create a procedure for the Harbor Management Commission to recommend variances from the Harbor Use Zone Standards of the Plan to a state or local permitting authority acting on an application to conduct activities affecting the waters of Old Lyme.

A copy of the proposed ordinance is posted on the Town’s website and paper copies are available for review in the office of the Town Clerk.  

If approved by the Town Meeting, this ordinance will be effective 15 days after its publication in a newspaper having a circulation in the Town of Old Lyme.


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