West Tisbury breaks ground for $6 million library project

Hunter Moorman, Cynthia Mitchell,Barbara Day, Rep. Tim Madden, Beth Kramer and Ben Moore, who designed the pre-addition library, don hard hats to break ground for the new West Tisbury Library addition. — Photo by Ralph Stewart

More than 100 West Tisbury Library enthusiasts braved chilly weather to hear warm remarks celebrating the library’s planned reconstruction and expansion at ground-breaking festivities Wednesday. They gathered behind the current library, where the new addition will be built.

There was music, mulled cider and food, a festive mood and a general sense of relief now that the project has moved from fundraising to imminent construction. Before the ceremony began, Hunter Moorman, chairman of the library foundation that raised money for the project, said, “Now it’s in the hands of the builders.”

Nauset Construction of Needham, one of six companies to bid on the project, will build the addition. They submitted the winning base bid of $5.123 million. The contract with Nauset is still being negotiated. Nauset Construction recently built the new Steamship Authority terminal in Oak Bluffs. The project completion date is January of 2014.

The current library, built in 1993, is 5,640 square feet. The new structure will measure about 13,000 square feet. The new design will include a new study room for young adults, a room for programs, lectures and films, a director’s office, staff work space, meeting space and restrooms. The design includes unfinished space for future expansion. Central sections at the heart of the current library remain, although they will be renovated to meet current codes and energy standards. Most of the new addition will be behind the original building, which faces toward Alley’s General Store across State Road.

The West Tisbury Free Public Library renovation and expansion project began with public comment meetings in 2008. The library foundation, formed in 2010 to raise private funds to help with the cost of the expansion, raised $1.7 million. The library qualified for a state grant of $2.93 million in 2011, and the town approved $1.5 million for the project at town meeting in April, 2011, by a nearly unanimous vote. The project is budgeted to cost a little more than $6 million dollars.

At Wednesday’s ceremony, Linda Hearn, chairman of the library trustees, thanked all of the individuals and groups that helped, singling out library director Beth Kramer and library board member Dan Waters for their especially important contributions.

State representative Tim Madden spoke on the importance of libraries. West Tisbury selectman Cindy Mitchell said that the library is the center of the town and praised the community spirit that made the project possible.

Katherine K. Dibble, chairman of the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), congratulated the town on its success. Leah Smith, chairman of the library building committee, and Barbara Day, a member of the Friends of the West Tisbury Library, thanked their respective members for the contributions they have made. Mr. Moorman applauded the generosity of the community, and West Tisbury poet laureate, Justen Ahren, read a poem about a young girl entrusted with carrying the ember that will light her village’s fire.

While the brothers Peter and Frank Dunkl made lively music with their horns, Ms. Kramer put on a hard hat and turned the first shovelful of dirt. She was followed by Ms. Hearn and the other speakers.

The library moved, at the end of the day October 13, into a much smaller, temporary location in the Middletown Village office space complex across from Conroy Apothecary on State Road in North Tisbury .

The library website (westtisburylibrary.org) has up-to-date information. The phone number is 508-693-3366.