(A quote from Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman)
I believe that my parents and grandmothers started reading to me when I was a small baby and since then I have always loved reading and libraries. Consequently it has been painful to watch the downward spiral of the Kent Memorial Library.
Over 25 years ago I was a member of the Board of Directors there. Even then we were struggling about the lack of handicapped access. A small parking space was put in slightly to the left of the entrance but it was not a very good solution.
Over the years there were, I think, about four studies done for around $20,000 each, but no good solution could be found. The final conclusion was that the building needed to be razed and a new one erected for around $8,200,000. There was a town referendum and that idea was turned down. Shortly after that a new roof had to be put on and eventually an addition to the entrance so that an elevator could be installed.
Although some like the addition, I do not care for it and it did take up some of the space for books. At that time I wanted to write an editorial, but decided I should wait until it opened so I could go inside and get the complete picture. Well, that was three years ago, and I am now 83 so I don’t think I should wait any longer.
Some thought the building was too special to demolish and others that we could not afford it but did they think of the “next paragraph”? I think not! According to Debbie Cerrato, Town Treasurer since February, 2013, the expenses have been $616,456.48 for the new roof, $79,840 for the architect’s preliminary plan, $175,773.84 for electrical plumbing and windows update and $4,938,302.67 for the library’s renovation and handicapped accessibility project for a total of $5,810,382.99. There have been approximately $1,200,000 in grants and private donations. There has also been rent for the temporary library at Ffyler Place and expenses for heat at the KML.
I think that Suffield has had a habit of putting things off until they became a bigger problem: for example, installing sewers. In the future, let’s think ahead.
And a thank you to Jackie Hemond, Library Director and her staff who have managed, in spite of it all, to serve 7,300 patrons this year.