Building committee regroups, seeks input from public

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Columbia - posted Tue., Jan. 29, 2013
The existing Saxton B. Little Library building is extremely crowded during special programs and community functions. Contributed photos. - Contributed Photo

After having a $5.9 million proposed library expansion rejected by Columbia voters on Nov. 6, the Saxton B. Little Library Building Committee has regrouped and is attempting to gather information from the public before going back to the architect for a reconfigured plan. “We are looking for feedback to try to get an idea of where to go from here,” said Committee Chair Noreen Steele, at a public meeting on Jan. 24 at the Beckish Senior Center.

The original plan would have increased the library size to a total of 15,000 square feet. The design incorporated a lot of glass, which Steele said was intended to contribute to the building’s energy efficiency. But some residents at the meeting didn’t like the glass, feeling that it would make the addition stick out among the town’s more traditional New England architecture. One resident, a builder by trade, felt that a rounded portion of the proposed addition would be too expensive to construct. Others suggested that the 15,000 total square feet might be too ambitious. Steele suggested that the additional square footage needed to be enough to make an expansion worthwhile. One resident wanted to know whether a meeting room was a necessary part of the plan. Steele said that the committee felt it was, both for library activities and to serve as a resource to the community-at-large.

Others brought up repairs that will be required of the existing building, and suggested that the committee provide residents with an overview of what these would cost, as compared to a full-blown expansion. Try to find ways to get residents to appreciate the resource that a library represents for the town, said another.

One resident called into question the efficacy of LEEDS certification, pertaining to green technologies and sustainability. She said that LEEDS certification has certain associated costs that might not be worth the benefits. Steele pointed out that, while the original plan attempted to utilize LEEDS technology in order to keep future operating costs down, the proposed addition was not intended to be LEEDS certified.

“So we’ve heard a lot about what people didn’t like about the plan,” said Steele at the conclusion of the meeting. The plan is to hold another public meeting in the spring, and then go back to architect Ken Best for an updated plan. The hope is to have a new proposal ready for the general election in November of 2013.

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