Voters to consider expanding Epping library for 4th timeBy JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent
January 02. 2018 9:30PM
EPPING — Supporters of a proposed $600,000 expansion of the Harvey-Mitchell Memorial Library hope the fourth time will be a charm after voters defeated similar plans in the past.
The proposal is expected to be considered once again by voters this March. It would double the size of the current library on Main Street next to the town hall.
“Our patrons are anxious to see us expand because we’ve run out of space,” said Charlie Goodspeed, chairman of the library trustees.
The current library expansion plan was designed last year by civil engineering students at the University of New Hampshire.
Goodspeed said the plan calls for expanding the building from 3,500 square feet to about 7,000 square feet.
The project would involve modifications on each floor to meet specifications under the Americans with Disabilities Act and would provide more computers, more room for book stacks and programs, and “significantly” more room for personal office space, Goodspeed said. The expansion will allow for more comfortable seating for people bringing their laptops and using the library’s Wi-Fi. It will also create a large meeting room in the basement.
The proposal for expansion has been rejected three times before. It lost by 150 votes the last time it was proposed, which was a couple of years ago.
Goodspeed said he’s hopeful that the project will get enough support from voters this time around.
Changes at the library have boosted patronage this year, he said.
Library Director Ben Brown, who was hired last year, said the library has many uses and that the space crunch has posed some challenges.
“We are a very small library and we’ve been seeing a big increase in attendance, especially this year,” he said. “I think a big part of this is expanding out room for programs and events, which we do have now but it requires a lot of shuffling around.”
Supporters are also encouraging people to donate to a fundraising campaign to help offset the cost to taxpayers. Goodspeed said it’s the first time the library has sought donations to help fund the expansion project. He said the campaign began a couple of weeks ago and has already raised about $2,000. Donations can be made through the library’s website, www.eppinglibrary.com.
Goodspeed said the donated money would be used first toward the project, followed by funds raised through taxes if the 20-year bond is approved. If voters defeat the plan, the donated money would be put toward any future library expansion, Goodspeed said, adding that the money can only be used for the building project.