Work on new public library in Manchester begins
By Patrick McArdle
STAFF WRITER | June 26,2013
This artist’s rendering shows the new Manchester Community Library.
MANCHESTER — A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Manchester Community Library, at the intersection of Route 7A and Cemetery Avenue, was also the site of an announcement of a challenge grant that could, if met, raise $1.5 million for the $6.6 million construction project.
For the “Hunter Family Community Challenge,” the James and Irene Hunter Family Foundation will match gifts of $5,000 or more to the Manchester Community Library Capital Campaign. The library’s board of trustees has already named the community room and multipurpose event space after the Hunter family.
In a statement, Susie Hunter, of the Hunter Charitable Fund, said the library was selected for a gift because of the “terrific planning” that went into the project.
“The new Manchester Community Library has precisely the broad community benefit that our parents always supported. We hope that our fund’s challenge will bring the remaining donors to the table in a meaningful way,” she said.
The new library, which replaces the Mark Skinner Library, will be funded by private donations.
Features of the new facility include separate rooms for children, in the “Children’s Barn,” and middle-school students. A support center for small businesses and home-based businesses will also be built as well as a meeting and event space.
The library will continue to be a place where residents without Internet access can use computers. There will also be a job and career center and a site for research into genealogy and local history.
The Mark Skinner Library, on West Road, has been the town’s public library for more than 115 years but a major change to the building has been in the planning stages for years. While those involved with the library have expressed great affection for their current site, it has long needed major infrastructure upgrades including sidewalk repairs and wiring that will support the modern need for faster Internet connections.
While the library will change its name in its new incarnation, a reading room in the building will retain the Mark Skinner name.
At the new site, the library will be more accessible for students from Manchester Elementary-Middle School and the Northshire Day School and take its place in a downtown which has amenities that have been recently upgraded as part of the roundabout project. The road project not only replaced the intersection of Routes 11/30 and 7A, formerly known as “Malfunction Junction,” it also included new sidewalks, streetlights and landscaping.
Betsy Bleakie, executive director of the Mark Skinner Library, said that almost 200 people attended the groundbreaking Friday, many of them children. She said there was “great energy” at the event.
Christine Miles, chairwoman of the Library Capital Campaign, said that while the library had enough donations to begin the construction project, more contributions, large and small, would be needed before it was complete. However, with the Hunter challenge grant, large donations would be doubled, she pointed out.
The planned completion date for the new library is September 2014.
Gifts can made through the Hunter Challenge by contacting Miles by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by sending a gift to P.O. Box 438 in Manchester. Mailed contributions should say, “Attention: Capital Campaign,” on the envelope and the contribution should be marked to indicate that it is a challenge gift.