November 21, 2018

Chester Selectmen Appoint Library Expansion Committee

CHESTER— The board of selectmen has appointed a nine-member volunteer committee to develop a plan for an expansion of the historic 1907 Chester Library on West Main St.

The committee’s review and recommendations are expected to lead to a proposed building project for the library that could go to the voters for funding approval later this year. Members of the library board of trustees, which has been considering options to expand and upgrade the library for more than a year, had asked the selectmen to establish the committee late last year.

Based on input received in a town wide survey and other factors, the trustees have decided to pursue a renovation and limited expansion of the existing library building, rather that construction of a new library on another site. The library building on West Main St. (Route 148) currently comprises about 2,000 square-feet with about 17,000 volumes.

Appointed to the committee are Selectman Larry Sypher, library trustee Peggy Carter Ward, Patricia Holloway, a librarian in West Hartford, builder Jeff Ridgway, project planner Jean Davies, Clifford Vermilya, a former town manager and library director, Dennis Tovey, an engineer, Lois Nadel, and Michelle Clark.

The charge for the committee that was approved by the board of selectmen at a meeting last week calls for recommendations on assuring full handicapped accessibility, upgrading of all mechanical systems as needed and providing dedicated storage space and an office for the librarian. The charge also calls for the committee to develop a plan that would not reduce parking capacity around the library.

Another key component of the charge calls for the committee to “secure a clear determination of the ownership of the library building and property.” The library is located on a parcel near the United Church of Chester, and some land records indicate the property is owned by the church.

Selectmen requested a determination of the ownership because questions about ownership of the land could hamper the town’s ability to secure bond financing for a building renovation and expansion project. The charge also calls for any proposed alterations of the building to be “unobtrusive and in keeping with the integrity of the existing building.”