Town hopes for $300,000 library grant

By Evan Pajer - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., Nov. 15, 2012
Mary Martin of the Public Building Commission talks about the grant. Photo by Evan Pajer.
Mary Martin of the Public Building Commission talks about the grant. Photo by Evan Pajer.

At the East Hartford Town Council's regular meeting on Nov. 13, the council heard from Public Building Commission member Mary Martin about a highly-competitive $300,000 grant the town hopes to obtain for the expansion of Raymond Library. The town is in the final steps of applying for the grant, and hopes to receive it in January of 2013.

“They don't want you to put pen on paper until you go through a screening process,” Martin explained. Martin said the town had to first explain the expansion project to a screener at the organization, which then held a 45-minute phone interview with representatives from the town and library board, followed by a two-hour visit to the library to inspect the site. It was only after this process that the town was able to obtain a paper application.

“When we got the application, it had, 'Do not share this application' written across the top,” Martin said. The final step includes a long-form application that includes 20 pages of narrative about the project and a demographic of the Town Council, Martin said.

The town was told that they would be able to obtain between $225,000 and $300,000 from the foundation, but Martin said that the lower amount would force the library to revamp its expansion budget. Council Chair Rich Kehoe called the grant “a promising lead that is definitely worth pursuing.”

Money from the grant, if received, will be added to an existing $8 million budget that dates back to 2008.  The budget will pay for an expansion that will double the size of the existing building, while also fixing issues such as a leak-prone HVAC system and aged roof and repairing damage to the building's brick face. The project is expected to go out to bid in January, with a bidder selected by May of next year and construction beginning some time in the summer.

During construction, the library will relocate to the East Hartford Community Cultural Center for up to 18 months, with Wickham Library expanding its hours to cover the gap. An additional $1.9 million of funding was added to the $6.1 million budget from 2008 last month to pay for repairs.

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