Journalism / New Haven Register

No. Branford reworks library plans

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff
July 9, 2008

NORTH BRANFORD — The town has had to rework the plans for a new Atwater Memorial Library due to budget constraints, Town Manager Richard Branigan told the Town Council Tuesday.

The original plans included a two-story building with an elevator, Branigan said, but that would have put the cost of the project about $800,000 over budget. The new plan calls for a facility that would be mostly on one level, so that it would still be accessible for people with disabilities.

The town has set funding of about $9.5 million to renovate and expand both the Atwater and Edward Smith libraries. Branigan said Tuesday that he expects the Smith Library project, which began construction in November and is closed, to come in with very little money left in its contingency fund.

“It was apparent that the original concept that was being shown there, while it was a good design, was not meeting the budget requirements,” Branigan said about the Atwater Library. He added that the new Foxon Road library will still have features such as a community room and children’s section.

With the Smith Library project meeting some delays due to structural issues earlier in the construction process, Town Council members have emphasized the need for the Atwater construction to come in on budget.

The Atwater project may no longer qualify for a state grant specifically for improvements under the Americans with Disabilities Act grant, but those funds were not guaranteed in the first place, Branigan said.

Work on the Smith Library, 3 Old Post Road, is on schedule and Branigan said he believes it could be finished by Thanksgiving. The building should be enclosed within 45 days, he said, and workers will then begin construction on the interior.

The original plans called for the total space at Atwater to more than double from 6,000 to 15,000 square feet, but it was unclear Tuesday how the new plans would affect the square footage. Smith Library is due to expand from 4,500 to about 12,000 square feet.

Smith Library was built in 1956 and Atwater dates from 1949. Both libraries have been in need of renovation for years, town officials have said in the past.

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