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Selectmen Take Action on Library, Road Names

The Board of Selectmen addressed several issues during their meeting Tuesday; the items focused on the transition to a temporary library, alternative electricity generation and address and name changes for the Lakeview Drive Extension.

The Suffield Board of Selectmen addressed several issues during their meeting Tuesday; the items focused on the transition to a temporary library, alternative electricity generation and address and name changes for the Lakeview Drive Extension in West Suffield.

The future of the town library was decided with a referendum earlier this year with a vote against building a new facility. But upkeep of the current was necessary.

The library needed a new roof among other repairs. The town budgeted for a roof replacement and had made a public announcement for the bids.

"The bids came in for the project, we received two bids," said First Selectman Tom Frenaye. "They did not come in under the estimate we got from the engineers."

The low bid, of about $587,000, came in from Silkroad Roofing of Manchester; they have done work previously in Suffield, according to Frenaye.

The plans call for the work to start on Sept. 12, with a minimum of 60 days of work. The question that needed to be answered was what will be done in during the time the roof is being replaced?

Frenaye said he eliminated the possibility of renting out space for a temporary library due to the high costs, so he ultimately suggested the option of using the lower level of Town Hall.

The board, following the suggestion of Frenaye, approved a motion to have a temporary library open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Operating the temporary facility wil cost of around $32,000 a month. That cost is less expensive than the current price to keep the library open for a given month.

The board also reviewed information from John Donahue, chairman of the Alternative Energy Commission, about a program to open up new electricity generation for households in town.

A normal household’s electric bill is split between distribution, which comes from Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P) and generation, which in most cases comes from CL&P as well.

The Alternative Energy Commission proposed that the town open up the opportunity to agree to a group rate through Direct Energy, which Donahue said provides some of the lowest generation rates, and offers a rebate for the town.

The board questioned what an agreement with Direct Energy would come across as to the people living in the town.

While the rates are lower, and Direct Energy offers a rebate based on the amount of people receiving electricity generation, board members were concerned an agreement would come across as an endorsement.

"I just don’t think it is proper for the town government," said Selectman Brian Fitzgerald, who compared the agreement to a group rate at Sam’s Club.

The board agreed to table the issue until more research could be performed, including what other towns in the area had done.

The board took action to change the street name and house numbers for the Lakeview Drive Extension in West Suffield.

The street had been plagued with issues including inconsistent street numbers, which made directions and proper emergency response difficult, according to Frenaye.

The board agreed that the concerns over proper safety response warranted a change in the street names and address numbers for the street.

The town also reached out to residents on these streets and heard back from all but four of 21 people households on the street. Frenaye said the overwhelming majority agreed to the name and number changes.

The north section of Lakeview Drive Extension will be named Lake Drive, and the south section will be renamed Lakeview Drive, consistent with the area.

“It really does help safety departments get to where they need in a timely fashion,” Frenaye said.

Nicole August 25, 2011 at 02:13 PM
In the private sector, if a business that provides needed services to its patrons evacuates its building for major repairs/remodeling, it doesn't just say "oh well, let's just close-- who cares about the people we service?" The Town made a responsible decision to continue the services out of a temporary location, just as the private sector would. It's much more about the services than it even is about the employees. Yes, it would be easier to provide no library services during the repair period of about 100 days. The Town didn't take the easy way out, instead it will continue to provide the library for the many taxpayers of Suffield. If you choose to think of it as being about "charity," "unions," and "wasteful tax dollar spending" it may keep you up at night, but it won't me. I understand that government always attempts to avoid cuts in services to its citizens, whenever possible. This is what has happened here and I think we should be glad that they are looking out for us and not making arbitrary decisions that will cut out services. Libraries are more important than ever in this economy. If you haven't had the desire to go to one lately, perhaps you are lucky enough to have a job or be successfully retired, can afford every database that you might need information from, know how to vet websites, can afford all the new books and magazines you might want, don't need to research about a cancer diagnosis or childcare... and the list goes on. Others do need the library.
Sami Mehmed Jr August 25, 2011 at 03:45 PM
Very sorry to state that the services mentioned could be provided by other means. With some cooperation from the senior center and education departments, (computers with internet connections). Otherwise, finding alternatives which provide the emergency, stress the word emergency, services mentioned in other posts Suffield library members could use the Enfield library or Granby library or Windsorlocks library. The temporary library cannot be justified because it is providing limited services in a very limited space. Lets have children book reading in the hallways! Wonder if people counters will be used at the entrance or entrances to town hall !!! to justify the need services mentioned in your post. I respectfully disagree with the BOS's political decision and the rationale used in your posting.
Nicole August 25, 2011 at 05:42 PM
Other Towns have done the exact same thing-- provided a smaller library with somewhat reduced resources during a remodel of the existing Library building. Our nearby neighbor Simsbury did it just a few years ago. Are they all wrong and wasteful? A lot of tax payers don't think so, including me. Its easy to say that people can just go to a different Library. But that's no so easy for many people, whether they rely on the minibus, a relative, a bike, their feet, etc. for transporation. I was compelled to comment because the Town has heard a lot from the people who are negative about the Library. They deserve to hear more than one side. And the people who are supportive of the Library and its services deserve to hear and see that others feel that way, too, and are willing to say so.
Sami Mehmed Jr August 25, 2011 at 06:23 PM
Not familiar with the Simsbury's temporary library situation and very happy that someone who believes in the value of the library is willing to post. The issue in my opinion is that the services are not necessary for the period of library repair. The library does not provide emergency service. Union contracts allow for lay - offs when employee's are unable to perform job functions. The repair does not allow the library too function. A temporary library does not provide these employee's the means to perform their job functions, 100%. It would be meaningless to comment on mini bus, etc transportation in my opinion. How do Suffield citizens residing in West Suffield access the Suffield library? Or for that matter how are the residents of West Suffield going to access the temporary library to take advantage of "emergency services". Please, support the need for a library but please avoid attempting to justify the temporary library, especially residing in town hall. All citizens don't live in walking distance to the Suffield Library or Town Hall. Yes, the last referendum on the new library and the previous referendum acknowledges the differences between the pros and cons clearly.
Nicole August 25, 2011 at 07:47 PM
My point about transportation was this: If a person lives in any part of the town and has a car, they can get themselves and their children, if any, to the Library. They can also transport elderly people and people who don't drive (I have done this myself). However, it might be out of the question due to time constraints and logistics to get to libraries in other towns. This is also happening during the school year. Kids of many ages rely on the public library to serve their research needs and allow them access to computers and printers. For the most part, these children can't get themselves to the library. If they can, they still need a way home. School libraries only go so far. Public libraries expand greatly the access to databases, inter-library loans, etc. It's an important service.

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