New library in Manchester gets approval
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | February 08,2013
Patrick McArdle / Staff Photo
Plans for a new community library in Manchester were presented at the Manchester Development Review Board meeting on Wednesday by Mike Ryan, left, chairman of the library’s board of trustees, and Chris Cole, of the Cole Company in Manchester, construction manager for the project. The board approved the plan for a new library which is expected to move and replace the Mark Skinner Library.
MANCHESTER — The design for a new library, which would relocate and replace the Mark Skinner Library, was approved Wednesday, kicking off a $6.6 million capital campaign that has a goal of breaking ground on the new building this year, according to the library’s executive director, Betsy Bleakie.
“If everything goes as planned, we’re hoping to break ground in April. Before we break ground, we imposed (the condition) on ourselves that we would have 80 percent of our capital campaign fund committed … and we are very close,” she said.
A flier created to promote the capital campaign said $2.5 million is already in hand, leaving $4.1 million to raise. Bleakie said the campaign has been going on since last summer.
The fundraising goal includes $1 million that would be added to the library’s endowment and double it to $2 million. That part of the goal has already been met.
The Mark Skinner Library is in the village of Manchester on West Road near Burr and Burton Academy and the Equinox Resort. The plan is to move the library to the corner of Route 7A and Cemetery Avenue.
The name would also be changed from the Mark Skinner Library to the Manchester Community Library.
“We are going to be taking that name with us and honoring our history by having the Mark Skinner Reading Room in the new library but the role of a library is more of a community hub. ... It just made more sense that it be called (something that reflects) more of what it’s role is going to be,” she said.
The change of name also leaves the possibility open that a donor could step in and make a large contribution in exchange for naming the library, Bleakie said.
The current library is more than 115 years old and had a major expansion about 50 years ago. After a series of public outreach meetings in 2006 which sought community output on what users wanted from a library in Manchester, the library’s board of directors decided in 2007 to replace, rather than attempt to upgrade, the library.
At the Manchester Development Review Board meeting Wednesday, the board voted to approve the design of the building, created by architects at Johnson Roberts Associates in Somerville, Mass., despite the lack of a recommendation by the Design Review Board.
The Design Review Board makes a recommendation to the Development Review Board but approval of a submitted proposal is ultimately left to the Development Review Board.
The plan was presented by Chris Cole, of the Cole Company of Manchester, who is construction manager for the project, and Mike Ryan, chairman of the library’s board of directors.
Cole said the library will be a one-story, 12,000-square-foot building with a partial basement. There are central core structure and several cross-gables coming into it. A section nicknamed the “children’s barn,” because of its barn-like appearance, will be the children’s section of the library.
Bleakie said architect’s drawings that show what the new library will look like are expected to be available in the Mark Skinner Library soon.
Information about contributing to the capital campaign is available by calling Bleakie at the library at 362-2607 or emailing Christine Miles, a former chairwoman of the library’s board of trustees, at email@example.com.