I had the pleasure of a tour of Kent Memorial Library recently and I left feeling so excited about the changes taking place that I wanted to share some of the highlights. Clearly every resident is anxious for the long-awaited reopening given the ongoing environmental saga the town’s endured. But after seeing it first-hand, I truly cannot wait for all of us to once again utilize this inspiring building.
Facilities Director Julie Oakes and Highway Foreman Mark Cervione were my tour guides as we entered the new all-abilities accessible entrance, lovingly named in honor of Suffield’s Mary Anne Zak whose family provided an enormously generous donation towards the project. The entrance is an inviting and impressive space welcoming patrons. Located on the ground floor are two sparkling new bathrooms and an elevator promising ease of access for all community members. The second floor addition is open and sun-filled thanks to expansive windows. All agreed it would make a great place for a comfy chair and good book, or grand opening celebration, or both!
At this juncture, all of the bookshelves have been removed and will be newly stained prior to reassembly. To accommodate the sprinkler system, the shelf height required an 18-inch reduction. This modification had a wonderful consequence of allowing more light as the top most transom windows, hidden for decades, are no longer blocked. End shelves were removed resulting in unimpeded sight lines along the glass ramps. The shelving cost is included in the current FY17-18 budget with $30,000 allocated in the FY18-19 budget for the purchase of new books to replace the older/outdated volumes that were exposed to PCBs. New carpet tiles consistent with the carpet in the addition, ramps and lower level are planned throughout. This includes the replaced parquet floors impacted by PCBs. Updated lighting fixtures with cost saving LED bulbs are also on tap. All of these efforts not only provide a fresh, clean look but heighten the inherent beauty of this building.
The auditorium, along with the entire library, will be enhanced with new acoustical tile improving overall sound quality. Auditorium seating will feature handsome new seats. Top row storage closets were removed enabling ADA seating compliance while minimizing the impact to overall capacity. The three lower level bathrooms (men, women and staff) will receive a long overdue refresher with new fixtures and dividers while the galley kitchen in the multi-purpose room gets its own makeover. These expenses are included in the current year budget. Other generous donations funded a rolling file system for the Historical Room, a decorative bench and the purchase of furniture to complete the transformation and to provide comfort for guests and employees alike.
To properly complete the Kent Memorial Library renovation, a fresh coat of paint will be applied to the exterior. Requests for proposals are in the works for a landscape architect to develop designs for the interior courtyard garden, and front and rear entrance areas in keeping with the character and purpose of the building. In an effort to maximize dollars, the RFP seeks simple and low maintenance proposals which build on current plantings. The expertise of the Suffield Garden Club will also be sought.
We continue to ask for your patience as the environmental abatement work proceeds and these final details are implemented. I hope you join me and enthusiastically look forward to the grand unveiling! When will it be you ask? Well, Julie Oakes and I share the same October birthday. Neither of us can imagine a greater gift this year than to cut the grand reopening ribbon alongside Ms. Zak!