January 08. 2013 10:32PM

Epping library trustees cut costs for proposed building

Union Leader Correspondent

EPPING - Library trustees have shaved $44,000 off the price tag for a new library after agreeing not to demolish the old building and removing plans to build a small park.

The proposed 9,027-square-foot library to be considered by voters in March was expected to cost $2,340,000, but at the urging of selectmen, trustees decided to keep the existing library for possible future use. The change would save the town the cost of tearing down the old library and replacing the area with a park.

Library trustee Michael Vose said the total cost of the project has been reduced to $2,296,000.

The new library would replace the Harvey-Mitchell Memorial Library, which has outgrown its building on Main Street next to an old brick fire station.

If the plan is approved, the fire station would be demolished and the land would be used for the new library.

Selectmen last month urged trustees to hold off on the project this year to ease the tax burden, but trustees plan to move ahead with a warrant article.

The decision to not demolish the old library building came after selectmen expressed interest in possibly using the building for school administrative offices if the town's recreation department moved to the school office building.

The recreation department has been in limbo since an earthquake in October damaged Watson Academy, forcing recreation activities to relocate for the foreseeable future.

Building the new library next to the old one poses a few challenges as it will leave only about 15 feet between the two buildings.

While the selectmen were the ones who suggested keeping the old library, Selectman Tom Gauthier expressed concern at a bond hearing Monday night about how the two buildings would look standing so close together

"It's going to look terrible," he said.

Selectman Robert Jordan also asked whether the closeness of the buildings would create a fire hazard.

Fire Chief Don DeAngelis said a distance of about 24 feet is preferred, but the architect said the plan would still meet fire and building codes with 15 feet between the buildings.