May 25, 2022

Chester Selectmen to Form Library Expansion Building Committee

CHESTER– The board of selectmen has agreed to establish a building committee to guide a planned expansion of the Chester Public Library.

The board Tuesday received a former request from the library board of trustees for a building committee that would guide an expansion project through funding approval by voters and construction. The library trustees have spent more than a year reviewing options for improvements to the historic 1906 library building on West Main Street (Route 148).

The review has included a town-wide survey and informational forums where most residents expressed a preference for improving and retaining the existing library building, rather than constructing a new library at a different location.

Molly Lund, secretary of the board of trustees, said the group has focused on a limited expansion of the 2,000 square-foot library building. She said the favored plan, which is still “just a concept,” calls for extending two wings off the back, or south, side of the building. She said the plan would not affect parking for the adjoining Chester United Church of Christ, which owns the land that contains the library building.

Lund said the group has not settled on an exact square-foot size for the expansion, or developed cost estimates for the project. “We need a building committee to take this project forward,” she said.

The selectmen discussed forming a building committee of seven or nine members that would include two library directors, a representative of the board of selectmen or board of finance, and volunteers, particularly residents with experience in architectural design and construction projects. Selectmen and library trustees agreed to recruit volunteers, with a formal appointment and charge for the committee expected in February. The committee would develop the details of an expansion project that could be presented to voters for funding approval, probably involving bonding, in 2001.

Residents interested in serving on the library expansion building committee should contact the selectmen’s office, library trustees, or Librarian Linda Fox.

Charles Stannard is a lifelong resident of Essex, and has covered various Middlesex County towns for two daily newspapers over the past 30 years.  He worked for the Middletown Press from 1979 to 1995 and the Hartford Courant from 1997 through last summer, and covered Chester, Deep River, Essex and Killingworth for the past decade.  Charlie lives in the Ivoryton section of Essex.