Thank you for your recent coverage of Blackstone Library’s proposed renovation project. We were very pleased to present an update on the project at the September 13 RTM.
The library went through the strategic planning process in 2012. Over 500 community members provided input via focus groups and online surveys. Several issues about the functionality of the library building came out of those surveys, including the location of the children’s area, lack of teen space, a greater need for technology and meeting space, and the unwelcoming and awkward rear entryway. In 2013, the library engaged Arbonies King Vlock to conduct an architectural review in which the town government and members of the public were invited to participate in a series of workshops held over the summer. Public input was used to inform the design that was ultimately approved by the library. The initial conceptual designs were displayed in the library and presentations were made to the public and town government. Once the RTM approved funding to proceed with the schematic phase of design last year, a building committee--composed of representatives appointed by the town and library board--selected Silver Petrucelli & Associates to further refine the design. The public was kept informed via regular reports at public board meetings. The schematic design approved by the building committee has been displayed in the library and on our website for over a year and has been presented at public meetings including the Board of Finance and Town Center Revitalization and Review Board. The public was invited to five information sessions at the library in May & June of this year, via a town-wide mailing.
Inadequate parking is an issue that the library is acutely aware of. The library board has followed the progress of the Town’s Main Street Gateway project and fully supported it since its inception. The plan allows for additional parking spots adjacent to the library property. The board of trustees also commissioned an independent parking study in 2012 to address the issue. The study concluded that the best option would be expanded street parking. The board of trustees has consciously avoided altering the library grounds, which have historic and horticultural significance.
The Blackstone Library was established as a public library with a charter from the State of CT Legislature in 1893. It is one of 75 out of 178 public libraries in the State that operate as an association library with municipal funding. We are deeply grateful to the nearly 500 donors, Friends of the Library and Branford Community Foundation, who have supported the renovation project through campaign contributions. We welcome all input from the community.