A park and memorial honors Sarah Josepha Hale at the Richards Free Library. (Courtesy)
Grant may move library parking project forward
By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
— A longtime desire by residents for more parking at the Richards Free Library could be moving forward with help from a federal grant.
A public hearing on a U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Cultural Facilities Grant to solve the parking problem takes place today at 5 p.m. in the Hale Room before the Board of Library Trustees’ regular meeting.
Located at 58 N. Main St., the Richards Free Library is in a congested part of downtown Newport where parking is limited.
Not only does the parking accommodate patrons of the town’s Richards Free Library, it also provides parking for the Library Arts Center and Gallery and the Sarah Josepha Hale Memorial Park, Library Director Andrea Thorpe said.
Additionally, the lot is often filled up by other users trying to find parking on the north end of the town common, she said.
The desire for more parking at the library was first raised nearly 10 years ago by residents in the town’s 2008 five-year strategic plan.
“We did a survey of the town and they said the number one problem is we need more parking for the library,” Thorpe said.
Addressing the parking issues got put on hold when the library focused on the creation of the Sarah Josepha Hale Memorial Park, which opened in 2013.
“We put the parking lot on hold to get the park up and running,” Thorpe said.
Before the library can qualify for the grant it must first hold a public hearing to take any input residents may have about the project, she said.
The project does not call for a parking lot expansion, Thorpe said, but rather a reconfiguration of the existing parking lot and space behind the park.
The project would increase the number of parking spaces from the current 18 to 38 spaces.
The cost of the project is estimated at about $33,000, Thorpe said.
The grant would cover 55 percent of the project’s cost.
The library would make up the difference with funds it has been saving over the email@example.com