The capital campaign to support construction of a new library in Winthrop is more than halfway toward its $3 million goal, Friends of the Winthrop Public Library (FOWL) Chairman Shannon Polson told the Winthrop Chamber of Commerce last week.
Polson presented an overview of the project, provided a fundraising update, and explained to chamber members how local businesses can support the new building, estimated to cost about $5 million, although that may change.
FOWL is a nonprofit group that is raising private funds to build the new library. A $2 million state grant has been allocated for the project, leaving the local group to raise about $3 million, Polson said. The state grant funds must be used by July 2021. Polson said estimated construction costs are “down the middle” of comparable library projects around the country.
FOWL is now in the facilities planning, design and fundraising stages of the project, on a .81-acre parcel property purchased by the Town of Winthrop at the intersection of White Avenue and Norfolk Road. FOWL subsequently acquired private funds to purchase an adjacent .92-acre parcel to provide more room for parking and better traffic flow. The completed building will be turned over to the town. Construction is projected to begin in June this year with opening scheduled for February 2022.
Johnston Architects and Prentiss Balance Wickline are the project architects, and detailed designs are well underway. The 7,300-square-foot building will include community space that will be maintained by the town.
Polson told chamber members that studies document how libraries help communities and local businesses, proving “equitable access” to information and materials that can be used to launch and operate businesses. The library will also provide much more online access than is now publicly available, Polson said.
“Libraries become a destination point, a community space where people come all the time,” Polson said.
Polson reviewed some “business partnership opportunities” that come with recognition and naming opportunities depending on the contribution level.
The fundraising campaign’s “quiet period” launched last September, Polson said, and “we are doing well.” She said about 56% percent of the goal has been raised, leaving about $1.38 million to find. “The money has to be committed or in the bank,” she said.
Polson said the campaign won’t reach out to the general public until most of the needed funds have been raised, likely in May preceding the June groundbreaking.
Two contractors have responded to requests for proposals, Polson said, and an archeological assessment of the site did not uncover any problems.
No additional taxes will be required to build or operate the new library. Town residents currently pay a library district assessment which goes to the North Central Regional Library (NCRL) system, of which the Winthrop library is a part. NCRL will provide all the furnishing and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.
The new facility will replace an undersized building on Highway 20 that was meant as a temporary site when the library moved in 13 years ago.