Shelburne Vineyard hosted a community meeting on Sept. 20 for those interested in hearing more about proposals for restoring the Historic Town Hall and building a new library.
More than 50 people attended a presentation where architects from Vermont Integrated Architecture (VIA) displayed three different concepts and asked for feedback. Andrea Murray, Nicholas Wood, and Ashar Nelson of VIA were on hand to explain the designs and listen to input from the community. All members of the Pierson Library Steering Committee were present, as was a majority of the Selectboard and all the members of the Pierson Library Board of Trustees.
The concepts were developed based on the Steering Committee’s Vision Statement:
Option A sites a new library of 11,470 square feet along Shelburne Road, next to, and possibly connecting to, SCHIP’s, with a terrace on the second level.
Option B also sites a new library of 10,823 square feet along Shelburne Road next to, but not connected to, SCHIP’s.
Option C envisions a new library of 12,235 square feet behind and connected to the historic Town Hall, with a special terrace and amphitheater style sitting lawn for outdoor programs.
In both Option A and B, the existing driveway would be relocated to the north, providing direct access from the fire station doors to US Route 7.
Library Director Lara Keenan views the library as the only place in town where people of all generations can actively engage in learning and socialization. For Keenan there are two important factors that should be considered when constructing the new library space. The first is striking the right balance between providing space for the library collections and accommodating social interaction. The second is determining facility placement to ensure proper flow while respecting public and private property.
Frequent library patron Connie Bonaccio believes the library is “a vital place in our community,” and intends to be an ongoing participant in future sessions. She said the most important aspects of the design to her were to have flexible multitasking space, as well as an area set aside for small tables where an individual could work or read in a quiet area. She cited natural light and excellent insulation as important features during the winter season.
Chris Schillhammer and her husband Alan also attended the session. She preferred Option C, connecting the library to the historic Town Hall. She views the Town Hall as important to the town’s history and wants to see it well-used. She urged the architects to ensure the new library’s architecture is consistent with its surroundings. While having a meeting place of all ages and for different purposes in the library is important to Schillhammer, she wants to make sure that the original purpose of the library—providing access to books for the community—is not lost in the process.
Judith Raven, another library patron, was impressed by all the factors the architects had taken into consideration. She stressed the importance of preserving the historic Town Hall and making needed improvements, citing acoustics as an example. Raven believes strongly that it is the responsibility of the Town to maintain and update the library, noting that not everyone can donate but everyone is served by the library and thus it should be funded by the taxpayers.
Steve Antinozzi, another participant, considers the library to be “key to the life of the town,” adding that it was an important part of his children’s education. He prefers Plan A and would like to see the sidewalk extending from Bostwick Road to Harbor Road.
Additional public meetings are planned, the next of which are at Wake Robin on Oct. 13 at 7:30pm and with the Rotary on Nov. 9. Meetings in school and after school for input from youth will be scheduled shortly.
To view the conceptual designs, visit the library or find them on the town webpage at http://vt-shelburne.civicplus.com/438/New-library-Town-Center-Project. The designs will also be available for viewing at the Friends of the Pierson Library Book Sale on Oct. 7 and 8, at the Farmers’ Market on Oct. 8, and at the Halloween Parade on Oct. 30. The Steering Committee welcomes input from the community as they move forward with this project.