Edgartown will receive $5 million state grant for new library

An architectural drawing of the new library. — File photo by Edgartown Library

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners told Edgartown officials today that the town will receive a grant worth $5,002,139, toward the construction of a new library to be built on the site of the old Edgartown School.

The state grant will cover about half the estimated $11 million cost. Voters approved funding for the rest of the cost at their annual town meeting this past spring.

The news was cause for celebration in Edgartown.

“What great news for the town of Edgartown,” Chris Scott told The Times in a telephone call Thursday. Mr. Scott was a member of the library building committee appointed by selectmen to recommend a library plan, following years of political and financial turmoil that scuttled a plan to expand the current library on North Water Street.

“For the first time in more than three decades, Edgartown’s new library will have space for the people who use it, children and adults, as well as for its collections,” Jill Hughes, library director, said in a statement. “The new building includes a beautiful children’s department, as well as spaces for quiet study, for individual tutoring and small group meetings, for support staff activities and for public programs. For all the people of town, the Edgartown Library will be the vital community resource it was meant to be.”

Edgartown’s proposal did not win a grant award in the current round of funding, but was near the top of the waiting list. When several towns across the state that did receive funding were forced to drop library projects, grant money became available for Edgartown.

“The success of this program and our ability to award grants that have such a significant local community impact come from working collaboratively with Governor Patrick’s office and local community leaders,” Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners chairman Frank Murphy said in a statement.

Edgartown officials got the news shortly after officially placing the Capt. Warren House on the market. The town bought the historic building for $3.5 million in 2005. It was intended to be part of an expansion project but proved unsuitable for use as a library. It has been vacant for eight years. The property is currently appraised at $3.3 million.

This week the town called for bids for the Warren House, in a request for proposals posted on the state’s central register and advertised in local newspapers.

Proceeds from that sale may be used to fund the town’s portion of the new library.