Editorial: Hopkinton Library urges you to support the Town Election

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We are taking this opportunity to clarify and correct information recently raised by library abutters on the eve of the Town Election vote.

Size & Location of the Library: The size of the planned new library of 22,000 square feet is based on the needs of Hopkinton, and Hopkinton’s thriving population, and is not dictated by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC). The existing building is about 5,783 square feet – one of the smallest libraries for a community of this size. The last renovation of the library was 43 years ago, in 1967, when the population was about 5,000 residents. Since then the population has tripled to 15,000, and the need for library services has dramatically increased, making the size of our library size grossly inadequate.

Planning for the library has been ongoing for several years. Nearly 15 years ago, in 2000, Library Trustees recognized that our town was outgrowing our library and purchased 9 Church Street for a possible future expansion. In 2010, the Permanent Building Committee (PBC) explored possible options for an improved Library, including relocation to another site. After listening to the concerns and feedback from residents, the PBC determined that the community preferred maintaining Hopkinton Library in its current location, and expanding and renovating the historic building to meet the needs of the community. To meet the requirements of the lot and local zoning, the proposed new library building was downsized from about 27,000 square feet to 22,000 square feet.

Following public viewing and comments at 20 presentations and a dozen public meetings, the PBC drafted a plan for renovation and expansion of our library that will serve our community based on current and projected populations and program needs, adapt to current and future technology needs, be a ‘green’ building as LEED silver, and serve the community, from infants to seniors, for generations to come.

At Annual Town Meeting in May 2011, proposed plan was presented to and endorsed by a majority of voters. At the same town meeting, a 2/3rd majority voted in favor of changing the zoning of the Library lots from Residential to Downtown Business. This change, authorized by town residents, brought the zoning for the library in line with the library’s neighbors on Main and Church Streets as zoned for Downtown Business.

Vaulted Ceiling & Stained Glass Window in Main Reading Room: The stained glass window and steeple at the front of the building will remain intact, and the ceiling will be modified in that area to maintain the window and make it visible from both floors in the expansion plans. The current plan calls for a 2nd floor to be added above the main reading room to provide space for a technology classroom, an office for staff and restrooms on the second floor. If the main room vaulted ceiling were left intact, the building would lose approximately 1,000 square feet of space on the 2nd floor. Given the history of this room and the added feature of maintaining this vaulted ceiling for the new meeting room, options will be considered and reviewed with the architect to maintain the ceiling as well as alternates to repurpose key visual elements in other ceiling spaces in the new building if the project is funded and moves forward.

Parking. The plans will add 21 parking spaces, which will help to alleviate issues with parking downtown. Currently the library functions solely with on street parking and other lots downtown, as there are only 6 employee plus one handicap space currently available on site. All current parking locations downtown will continue to provide access. Over 100 spaces currently exist within 500 feet of the library. Larger events can be held off hours so as not to compete with mid-day access to parking. The multipurpose room can be used in different configurations, as well, holding approximately 60 people in a classroom setup, 30 with a u-shape setup, and up to 110 in a theater style format depending on the event, attendance and desired room setup. Since 2009, 4 downtown businesses have requested a "Special Permit", or asked to be allowed to operate with less than the required number of downtown parking spaces, and all of those requests have been approved.

Further Community Input: We are pleased and encouraged by abutters assertions of support for the library renovation, and look forward to working with these residents as well as the rest of the community on a final plan that serves the current and future needs of the community, enhances and honors the integrity of the historical buildings, and blends with the existing characteristics of downtown Hopkinton.

It is the role of the Hopkinton Permanent Building Committee (PBC) to work with the architects and oversee the design, approval and construction processes. All members of the PBC are volunteers with experience in construction. The approval process for this project will be the same as for any public or private building project in Hopkinton, and the community will have numerous additional opportunities for involvement during the approval process.
If residents vote at the Town Election to approve the $11.7 million funding for the library project, then the PBC and architects will immediately begin working with local boards and committees to solicit input on a final design that will satisfy the many interests of the town.

The local boards and commissions that will have the opportunity to review the plans include: Zoning Board of Appeals, Planning Board, Historic District Commission, Historical Commission, DPW, and Town staff. The Historical District Commission is one of many local regulatory or permitting boards that will review the final design. No board's job is to halt a project, but to ensure that each project meets local (and in some cases state) requirements.
As objective evaluators, these groups reserve judgment until they see the detailed design that the PBC and the architect present. As a project that is important to the entire community, each board or committee will have the opportunity and responsibility to work collaboratively with the PBC to help the community produce a final design that serves the best interests of Hopkinton.

We hope that residents will take the time to review the proposed design for an expanded and renovated Library and visit the Library Expansion Page at www.hopkintonlibrary.org.

We urge you to support the library at Annual Town Election on Monday, May 19, 2014.
Very truly yours,

Liaisons to Permanent Building Committee for Library Project
Laura Barry, 7 Nicholas Road
Marie Eldridge, 10 Alexander Road
Scott Richardson, 77 Main Street