The state Board of Library Commissioners awarded the city a $10.1M grant for its proposed $24M library renovation and expansion. City councilors have six months to accept the grant and secure funding for the project.
MARLBOROUGH – The plan to renovate and expand the city’s more than century-old library took a major step forward this week.
The state Board of Library Commissioners awarded Marlborough a $10.1 million grant to help pay the tab for the estimated $24 million proposed renovation and expansion of the West Main Street library. The city was put on a waiting list for grant funding last July and ranked third on that list. The two communities ahead of Marlborough – Hingham and Greenfield – were each awarded more than $9 million for their projects.
Of the 33 communities which applied for state funding for library construction projects, 11 received grants.
The board also approved Library Green Incentive awards for each project that receives Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDS) certification. Those communities will receive additional state funds administered by the board.
“I am very excited to have received this news and look forward to discussing the project with the City Council,” said Library Director Margaret Cardello.
City councilors have until January to accept the grant and sign off on funding the remainder of the project. The Marlborough Public Library Foundation is hoping to privately raise about $2 million to defray the cost.
With a handful of projects under construction and in the works – such as a new elementary school and a potential west side fire station – Mayor Arthur Vigeant said city officials will have to make sure the funding for the library project works so the city is not hit with significant debt service payments.
“It moved up a little quicker than we expected,” Vigeant said of the grant award.
The library will remain at its West Main Street home. The facility will expand from 22,300 square feet to 28,206 square feet. Staying on West Main Street has its challenges, such as a lack of parking. The library has only 23 parking spaces at its Witherbee Street entrance.
City councilors earlier this year approved purchasing homes at 28 Witherbee and 29 Witherbee St. to be knocked down and the land used for the library project. Library personnel park at the Witherbee Street homes to ensure there are enough spaces for visitors.
Built in the early 1900s and last renovated in 1969, the library lacks room for meetings and quiet study. Such areas would be part of the renovation and expansion.
The facility’s auditorium is too small to house popular programs, and the building lacks a classroom for tutoring and public workshops, such as English as a second language. Library officials have also said there is a need for more public computers and technology.
This article by Jeff Malachowski originally appeared here.