September 1, 2014

Public Information Forum on New Chester Library Expansion Plan

CHESTER—Trustees for the Chester Library have scheduled a Jan. 11 public information forum on a new expansion plan for the library building that would focus most of the new space on an underground lower level. The “community conversation” on the new expansion plan begins at 10 a.m. at the Chester Meeting House, with a snow date set for Saturday Jan. 25.

The trustees and library supporters have been working for nearly two years to develop a plan to expand the historic 1907 library building and make the structure fully accessible for handicapped persons. Using a $20,000 state grant, the trustees hired a South Windsor architectural firm to prepare preliminary expansion plans. A plan for a 2,000 square-foot expansion, with a $3.09 million estimated price, that would double the size of the existing building drew a mixed response from residents at two information forums held early this year.

Architect Ken Best has prepared a new plan for a slightly smaller expansion that would extend the lower level on the west side of the building. The cost of the new, lower level expansion has been estimated at about $2.8 million. In a statement announcing the Jan. 11 session, the trustees noted the new plan would “preserve the fa├žade of the building and its historic main floor while creating a fully accessible facility at a lower level.”

Library representatives presented the new plan to the board of selectmen at a Dec. 3 meeting, and were urged by the selectmen to hold another public forum to test community reaction to the new plan. Based on the public response, there could be a request for town funding for red test borings that would confirm feasibility of the new plan. The goal is to bring an expansion plan to the town’s voters in a bonding referendum sometime in 2014.