First Selectman’s Update

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Melissa Mack

I am relieved and delighted to announce that Kent Memorial Library will reopen its doors in June. This project proved to be my most challenging inheritance to date as First Selectman. The unforeseen polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) remediation catapulted costs far beyond original town approvals. These are the hazards we risk when renovating old buildings – no matter how significant or beloved. This is the lesson learned and to be remembered. That being said, I am excited to enjoy our beautifully renovated library – an icon of 1960s modernism by Warren Platner – for years to come as KML once again welcomes patrons and recaptures its prominent location at the intersections of our town center and community life.

I sincerely express heartfelt gratitude to everybody involved with the project from inception, to 2014 groundbreaking, to June’s anticipated ribbon-cutting. An enormous thank you goes to the Zak family, for their unparalleled generosity. KML will forever be graced with the name Mary Anne Zak, just as our town has been blessed by her through so many years. Thank you to Facilities Manager Chris Matejek, Executive Assistant Linda Zaffetti and our consultant Craig Schoner, for seeing the project to fruition. Thank you to the Permanent Building Commission, Boards of Selectmen and Finance, for invaluable expertise and oversight. To Suffield’s residents, KML staff and notably Director Jackie Hemond, thank you for your patience and keeping the library and its programming vibrant under difficult circumstances. To all of our enthusiastic library supporters – the KML Commission, Library Foundation, Friends of KML – we’re grateful for your advocacy and support. To our design, construction and environmental partners, thank you for your perseverance and assistance through many seemingly insurmountable (at times) obstacles. Kudos to Brian Doyon for his gorgeous interior carpentry work. Everyone played a crucial and collaborative role in seeing this project to fruition.

Total projected KML project expenditure: $7,785,850. For comparison, the cost for a new library (on Bridge Street School site) voted down at 4/28/11 referendum was $8,408,000. 

I strongly recommended adding $403,000 for interior renovations as part of the FY17/18 budget. The dollars approved at the 2014 and 2015 Town Meetings included nothing for woefully dilapidated interior projects including employee workspaces and bathrooms. It made no sense to move the library – for a third time! – to incorporate these improvements at a later date. That strategy would have been penny wise and pound foolish. Now, all will be greeted by a revamped space that complements rather than contrasts with the impressive new addition. Among the overhauls are the auditorium and basement multi-purpose room. Both of these fresh, new spaces provide much needed opportunities for community presentations and events. Please take advantage of these meeting/ party rooms – contact the library for reservations!

A final thought by Peter Golkin, Public Information officer, Arlington Public Library, “My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything. The perfect day: riding a bike to the library.” At long last, Suffield, welcome back to YOUR Kent Memorial Library! Enjoy!! 

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