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State will join Edgartown Library discussionRepresentatives from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) are scheduled to meet with Edgartown Free Public Library officials next week to discuss the town's plans to expand the facility.
Library officials said that Anne Larsen, MBLC library building consultant and small library specialist, will present the state's review of the plans, and will discuss the future of the proposed project.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 4 pm on Tuesday, Sept. 27 at the Anchors in Edgartown.
The meeting comes two months after the MBLC put the Edgartown Library on the waiting list to receive nearly $4 million in grant money for the proposed expansion project. It was a move that surprised many library officials, who had originally thought that the project was ineligible for the grant after the Edgartown zoning board of appeals' (ZBA) voted in April to turn down a special permit for the project.
The library trustees want to construct a 17,000-square-foot addition to connect the old Carnegie library building on North Water Street to the neighboring Captain Warren house, which the town recently purchased for $3.5 million. Library trustees said that in total, the project would cost approximately $11.5 million, and would be funded with grants and fundraising efforts. Edgartown voters approved the purchase of the Captain Warren house in August of last year. More recently, at the Edgartown annual town meeting in April, voters approved two articles allowing the town to borrow money to help pay for the renovations and expansion of the facility.
The project requires a special permit from the ZBA to allow the library, which is currently a non-conforming structure under the town's zoning bylaws, to expand.
At the ZBA public hearing in April, members who opposed the project cited its size as an important concern. They also pointed to the limited number of parking spaces. The plan called for the addition of 10 spaces behind the Captain Warren house.
Unable to move forward without zoning board approval, library officials said that they hope the state's involvement will help them find a way to reverse the ZBA's decision.
Since July, a joint advisory committee, with appointees from both the library trustees and the Edgartown selectmen, has been meeting to discuss the library expansion plans. Size has continued to be a stumbling block.
Felicia Cheney, Edgartown Library director, said that the size of the proposed expansion is likely to be a key issue at next week's meeting. She said that any drastic changes to the plan could make the project ineligible for its $4 million grant.
"I know that everyone is waiting with bated breath to see how much the size can change and still get the grant from the state," she said. "We can change the design, but if we change the size, we could affect the scope of the programs that we said we would do, which means we could lose the grant."
Ann Tyra, library trustee and former library director, said that she is hopeful next week's meeting will help the joint advisory committee reach a consensus.
"The one thing everyone does agree with is that library needs to be expanded, that we are just far, far too small," she said. "How we address that is something that we are working on. Hopefully after Anne Larsen speaks with us we will know all the options, and we will be able to get into how we can proceed."
Ms. Tyra said that the library trustees have also continued to study the future needs of the library. She said they conducted a survey this summer to determine who is using the library, what they are using it for, and what sort of changes they would like to see. She said the data, which is still being compiled, would help library officials refine the proposed expansion.