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February 21. 2013 10:06PM

Candia Heritage Commission makes final pitch for library

With the town vote rapidly approaching, the Candia Heritage Commission is making its final pitches to voters on its renovation project for the town's old library.

The commission has prepared an insert for the Boy Scout flier that will be distributed to every household in the town, explaining the background and history of the building and the project.

"We're trying to communicate what the project is," said Heritage Commission Chair Diane Philbrick.

The building has been vacant for more than 10 years, she said.

"It costs the town money to keep it empty, and we would sure rather see it being able to open and to be used, and to get back to being part of community life at the center of the town."

The insert argues that "passage of this warrant article enhances the historic character of our town and invests in its future."

The Smyth Memorial Building, the town's public library until 2003, was built in 1932. Named after Candia native and Gov. Frederick Smyth, the building is listed on the state and National Registers of Historic Places.

Since closure, the building has been

open for special events such as the town's annual Lights on the Hill Christmas event.

The warrant on the ballot seeks to fund the renovation project, which would bring the building up to code to serve as a multi-purpose community center for the town.

The project will cost $163,500, but the commission has proposed paying for the project through a five-year loan in order to minimizes the tax impact (estimated at 10 cents per $1,000 valuation per year).

There has been discussion of using volunteer work to reduce costs.

Philbrick said that the commission's contractors were "really trying to make this happen for us. We think that we've been able to put together a very desirable option," and that she expected that should the commission bring the project back another year, the price would likely increase.

Should the warrant pass, however, the triumph will be bittersweet for the commission as it remembers the loss of two of its mot significant partners.

Ron Thomas, who once served as Candia's town moderator, was a part of the group that began Heritage Commission in 2002 and developed its initial goals.

"Ron worked exceedingly with great energy for this project," said Philbrick.

Thomas passed away in July of 2012 after a battle with cancer. He was 77.

His family has established a renovation fund for the Smyth building in his name.

More recently, architect Rick Monahon died in a car accident.

"We felt that he really partnered with us," said Philbrick of Monahon. "It wasn't like we just hired a professional and he showed up and did a job. He really partnered with us and tried to do what he felt was the very best, he got to know us and got to know the town a bit and what we had for expectations. We had great respect for him."

Should the building renovation be complete, plaques of recognition for the two men will be installed in the building.

The Candia Town Meeting will be held on March 12 at the Henry W. Moore School on 12 Deerfield Road. The polls will remain open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

bclogston@newstote.com


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