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Posted on: May 9, 2023

Dighton Library Building Committee to Host Informational Meeting on Town Meeting Funding Requests

Library Building Committee Co-Chairs Ken Pacheco and Ron O’Connor, together with Community Preservation Committee (CPC) Chairman Kevin Smith, are pleased to invite community members to an Open House/Informational Meeting at the new home of the town’s public library.

The Open House/Informational Meeting is scheduled for Saturday, May 13 from 1-3 p.m. at the library’s proposed new location at Dighton’s Smith Memorial Hall, 207 Main St. 

At the Open House/Informational Meeting, residents will have the opportunity to tour the building’s main level and learn more about proposed building improvement funding requests being presented at Dighton’s June 5 Annual Town Meeting. Those interested are also invited to arrive early at Smith Memorial Hall at 12:45 p.m. to join in a group photo for the cover of the town’s 2022 annual report.

“It is the Library Building Committee’s utmost goal to provide Dighton residents with as many facts and as much information as possible about the library building improvement project and its subsequent funding requests ahead of Town Meeting,” Co-chair Pacheco said. “We invite residents to attend our upcoming Open House/Informational Meeting as it will allow them to tour the facility and hear more about the process and the work that has been done so far.”

Dighton’s Annual Town Meeting (ATM) Warrant includes two articles, Articles 14 and 15, which propose necessary building improvement funding requests for the town’s Library_Exterior-Photonewly acquired 207 Main St. building. Article 14 of the ATM Warrant proposes $323,000 in recommended funding by the Community Preservation Committee (CPC) and Article 15 proposes a $404,000 transfer in the current year’s budget. Both articles would fund building preservation, rehabilitation and restoration for the historic Smith Memorial Hall— including HVAC, electrical, carpentry, and accessibility improvements— to become the new home of the Dighton Public Library.

In addition to these articles, town officials have also been pursuing available grant funding from state, non-profit and philanthropic sources to help offset building improvement and related costs.

Efforts to address Dighton’s longtime library building needs have continued since last spring when town officials identified a unique opportunity to acquire the historic Smith Memorial Hall to serve as the new home of the Dighton Public Library. The town utilized $790,000 of its local share of federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funding to acquire the property. The building acquisition, approved by residents at Dighton’s June 2022 Annual Town Meeting, offered a cost-effective solution to address the town’s library building needs, all while minimizing the impact on the local tax rate.

“For decades, library trustees, town officials and residents have sought a solution to the accessibility needs and space limitations of Dighton’s historic Carnegie Library built in 1910,” said Co-chair O’Connor, who also serves as the chair of the Dighton Public Library Board of Trustees. “The plan for Smith Memorial Hall not only represents an extraordinary opportunity to provide the accessible and larger library that residents deserve, but also preserves an important part of Dighton’s history with no added impact to taxpayers.”

The acquisition of the historic Smith Memorial Hall property also made future improvements — like those being proposed — eligible to be funded through Dighton’s Community Preservation funds while simultaneously limiting the pressures on Dighton’s operational and capital budgetary needs.

“Following a thorough review of the library building application that was presented to the CPC and after gauging public input from Dighton taxpayers, the committee was pleased to recommend the use of $323,000 in CPC funding at the upcoming Annual Town Meeting. It is a unique opportunity for us to preserve a piece of Dighton history and rehabilitate the building to meet a longstanding need for the community,” said CPC Chairman Smith.

Projected initial costs, including the acquisition of the building and its improvements, are estimated to be approximately $2 million, which is significantly less than the previously proposed $8 million renovation and expansion of the original 395 Main St. library building.

The project funding to date totals $1,140,000, which includes $790,000 in ARPA funding, $200,000 in state funding secured by Sen. Marc Pacheco and Rep. Patricia Haddad, and $150,000 in capital stabilization funding approved by residents at the June 2022 Town Meeting.

The first phase of the Smith Memorial Hall restoration project began in January with the building’s exterior envelope and weatherization project. During this phase of the project, existing building shingles were replaced with historically appropriate red cedar shingles, insulation was installed, and exterior trim restorations and improvements were performed.

The projected building budget, including the two proposed June 5, 2023 ATM Warrant Articles, totals $1,936,103, which is well within the original $2 million budget estimate.

The Town anticipates that the Dighton Public Library Project will be completed by the end of calendar year 2024. The anticipated date of completion is contingent on the approval of town meeting funding articles and general construction schedules.

History of the Dighton Public Library

The original Dighton Public Library was an Andrew Carnegie-funded library built in 1910 with 3,000 square feet of operational space. While the building served the town for decades, the need to replace it was identified in the town’s 1970 Master Plan.

The library was closed to the public in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic due to space limitations, building safety concerns, lack of adequate egress, and accessibility issues for persons with disabilities.

The Dighton Public Library is currently operating at Dighton’s Town Hall Campus with its General Collection housed in a 12-foot by 60-foot (or 720 square-foot) modular trailer unit and its Youth Services Department located in a 1,120 square-foot meeting room on the lower level of Town Hall. Both temporary locations continue to be challenging in offering modern-day library services for Dighton residents.

To learn more about the Dighton Public Library Project, click here.


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