Construction remains on track at multi-use building
Absent any unforeseen delays, the new Winthrop library is on schedule for a June 4 grand opening, the Winthrop Town Council was told at its Jan. 5 meeting.
Jill Sheley, executive director of Friends of the Winthrop Library (FOWL), told the council that construction is expected to be substantially completed by April, and that NCW Libraries will begin moving books, equipment and furniture into the new space in May, when an occupancy permit is also expected.
FOWL is the nonprofit organization that raised funds for and is building the new library. The building will be turned over to the Town of Winthrop when completed, and its programs will be funded and operated by NCW Libraries, the regional library system that oversees 30 branches including those in Winthrop and Twisp.
Groundbreaking for the new library was in early June 2021. The project is supported by FOWL’S private fundraising over the past several years, and a $2 million state grant. The library is being built 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 expand the area available for the building, parking, and landscaping.
The building was designed by Johnston Associates and PBW Architects. Impel Construction is the general contractor.
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 NCW Libraries system. NCW Libraries will provide all the furnishings and equipment for the new building, as well as maintenance.
The 7,300-square-foot building, which will be more than six times the size of the current library, has been planned from the beginning to function not only as a library, but also as a community gathering space. The main area includes dedicated sections for kids, teens and adults; six windows with bench seating; and a living-room area with a fireplace and view of Mount Gardner.
The building also features separate rooms for community gatherings, lectures and activities, and a “maker space” for things like art projects, 3D printers and sewing machines. The main community gathering space can be accessed separately when the library is closed, and will include a catering kitchen. It can accommodate up to 72 people, or be divided by a soundproof barrier into two separate meeting spaces, each with access to covered outdoor areas.
The larger library will accommodate a bigger collection — more books, magazines, audio and movies. There will be public computers and printers. The entire facility will have free public Wi-Fi.
Even the outdoor spaces will be educational, with FireWise landscaping and fire-adapted plantings. There will also be a children’s play area, and areas for meetings or presentations. The library will feature artwork created by local artists Hannah Viano and Tori Karpenko, plus space for rotating exhibits. (See related stories, page A6.)
The building is designed to meet environmental standards and will be prepped for solar panels, which FOWL hopes to add.
NCW Libraries Executive Director Barbara Walters told the Town Council that the library that one of the new library’s goals will be to focus on family-oriented activities, offering “a wealth of assets to support families.” Programs will be available for all age groups, she said.
Construction right now is focused on finishing the interior work. Work on the outdoor landscaping including paving the parking lot, concrete or paver patios, the circular book drop-off, curbs and steps down from the Susie Stephens Trail and outdoor bench seating will proceed as the weather allows.
More than 1,000 “donating parties” (couples, families, businesses, individuals) have given funds to the new library, FOWL reported.
Current funding covers the exterior “hardscape,” FOWL said, but the organization needs about $40,000 in additional funding to finish construction of the library building and obtain an occupancy permit. Future funding needs include for more landscaping and planting, as well as installation of solar panels.