The voters and taxpayers of the Town of Suffield will be voting on four bonding questions on Thursday, April 28. The most talked-about question is whether to construct a new library building on the site of the Bridge Street School.
We are being asked to approve spending, approximately $8 million, for the construction of this building. About $6.5 million of this amount will be bonded for and the Suffield Library Foundation will be required to raise $1.5 million through donations. My understanding is that the foundation is nearly halfway there at this point. The town will not be allowed to spend more than the $6.5 million if the question is approved, despite rumors to the contrary.
If bids come in too high then the building will be smaller. About two and a half years ago a proposal to build a new library building, at a cost of about $13 million, was soundly defeated at referendum. I was one of those who voted against that question because I thought the cost was too high and the location was wrong.
We will be voting on a completely different proposal this time around. The cost to the town is about half of the original price and the location is much better and makes more sense. I will be supporting the library question along with the other three questions when I vote next week.
I am a fiscally conservative Republican, which means that I like to keep costs down and that I want to get the most out of the money that the town spends. I consider this an opportunity to get a real bargain on the library construction, Town Hall renovations, seven miles of roads and new fire apparatuses. The cost to us in tax dollars will be about $140 per year for the average home, about half of that is for the library.
These are four projects that are going to have to be addressed one way or the other in the near future. It would be silly to spend millions of dollars on the existing library building and not gain any more space in the building or any more parking. Construction costs and interest rates are at a low point now, so the smart thing to do is to take advantage of that. The opposite action, putting off the inevitable and paying much more later on for these projects, would eventually have to be addressed.
I understand that economic times are tough but I think that $140 per year is a small price to pay in order to keep our town moving in the right direction. I think the approval of these questions in the long run will have a positive impact on our property values.
There are some who say that libraries are dinosaurs and not needed. I disagree with this. I don’t currently use our library because I don’t think that it’s very functional and the parking is terrible. I think that a new, state-of-the-art library building will draw many more people to it. The library would have many other uses such as meeting rooms, computers, and a large children’s area.
I would certainly use the new library as I think many others would. New library buildings and additions have been built all around New England over the last decade and they will continue to be used. Virtually every town in our state has a library. Would you ever consider sending your child to a college without a library?
As a member of the Board of Selectmen I try to put the best interests of the town above all else, as do my colleagues on that board and the other boards and commissions in town. We are volunteers and work very hard at what we do. We have jobs, raise families and have other interests despite what some may think.
I hope that you will come out on April 28 and vote yes on all four questions. Thank you for reading.
Tim Reynolds, Member of the Board of Selectmen
Disclosure: Tim Reynolds is not acting on the Board of Selectmen's behalf but as a citizen of Suffield. The board cannot collectively endorse or support the referendum questions.
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