By Gina Macris
Rhode Island Library Report
TIVERTON, R.I. – (Oct. 26, 2013) – More than 100 people, including half of Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation and an array of state and local officials, gathered amid the fall foliage in the woods off Bliss Four Corners Saturday to break ground for a new $10.6 million town library.
The single-story, shingle-style building will be 23,792 square feet, almost ten times the size of the main library in Tiverton today. Located of Bulgarmarsh and Stafford Roads,
One speaker after another emphasized that the new library will be far more than bricks and mortar, starting with Town Council President Edward A. Roderick and ending with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, who played a pivotal role in securing federal funding for acquisition of the site.
The $10.6 million in construction costs will come from a $3.6 million capital campaign and a $7 million bond issue approved by voters in 2011, with the state reimbursing the town $4 million of the principal over 20 years.
Roderick called the library the “heart and imagination” of the town; not only a place to read books but “a gathering place to exchange hopes, dreams, and ideas for our town.”
Reed said libraries are “about connecting with the community; connecting with the future.”
He recalled seeing “a line going out the door” of a computer room at a library in Pawtucket he visited one day.
“I was so impressed,” Reed said. “You can’t get a job today if you can’t get online. And for many people the only place they’re going to get online is at the library. This is about economic development, as well as intellectual tasks,” he said.
U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline credited cooperation among leaders in local, state, and federal government for advancing the library project.
When the state library reimbursement program was threatened, Cicilline said, Tiverton’s delegation to the General Assembly, particularly Sen. Walter S. Felag, Jr. and Rep. John G. Edwards, made sure the local library project got approval before funds were cut off.
The General Assembly put the program on hiatus between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2014.
The $4 million grant to Tiverton is the largest ever awarded in the program, which dates back to 1965, said Karen Mellor, acting chief of the state Office of Library and Information Services.
“In 14 years of working on library construction projects across the state of Rhode Island, I have not seen such a diverse array of funding, with such wide-ranging financial support, as I have seen in this town, so you all deserve congratulations on that,” she said.
The new building, featuring a distinctive clock tower, will replace the well-loved but long-outdated Essex public library on Highland Road, which has only 2,500 square feet of usable space.
Essex has served as the town’s main library since 1939. Tiverton’s library services encompass Essex and the historic 19th century Union Public Library, half the size of Essex, on Main Road at Tiverton Four Corners.
The new building will greatly expand facilities for all ages and interests, from young children to the elderly.
According to a design by Douglas Kallfelz of Union Studio in Providence, there will be a large meeting room for
Lee Hoyer, the chairman of the building committee, said in an interview earlier this year that Kallfelz incorporated ideas by residents at a community design conference for the new library.
“People wanted something that looked like it fit in; not new, necessarily. It’s eye-opening how a community meeting very much influenced design constraints.”
The town needed a modern building that could still be run by a small staff, he said.
Financially, he said, the committee knew it couldn't count on regular hikes in its operating budget.
Although the library project was once the subject of a workshop on environmentally-friendly library design, Tiverton ultimately did not seek LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council because it would have been too expensive, Hoyer said.
But energy costs, per square foot, are expected to be 60 to 70 percent less than they are now, Hoyer said.
The trustees have hired Jeff Lipshires of Behan Brothers as the construction manager.
The original budget, $11.6 million, has been pared to $10.6 million because the capital campaign goal proved to be
Hoyer is a retired physician and medical school professor who has had previous experience supervising construction of a research facility.
He said the building committee saved money by eliminating exterior and interior details that have no impact on library services. For example, the fieldstone exterior was changed to shingles, and an outdoor reading area shaped like an amphitheater was eliminated, he said.
The Tiverton Library Foundation has raised all but $400,000 of a $3.6 million goal, according to Eileen Browning, the chairman.
She said major contributions include:
- $475,000 in a site acquisition grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, with the help of Senator Reed.
- $65,000 from the Central Baptist Church, which has disbanded, to complete purchase of the land
- $1 million from local anonymous donors
- $750,000 from the Champlin Foundations
- $250,000 from BayCoast Bank
- $250,000 from the Van Beuren Charitable Foundation
- Grants totaling $80,000 from the Rhode Island Foundation
- $50,000 from the John Clarke Trust
- $50,000 from Al Lees of Lees Market in Westport, Mass.
- $25,000 from Amica Companies Foundation
- $25,000 from BankFive of Fall River, Mass.
- $17,000 from Newport County Fund
- $10,000 from BankNewport
- $10,000 from Tiverton Power