Correction: This story was corrected to reflect a 4-1 vote by the Selectboard.
Supporters of the proposed Pierson Library and Town Hall Development Project breathed an audible sigh of relief Tuesday night when the Shelburne Selectboard voted to put the project on the November ballot.
The vote was 4-1.
The project, which has been in the works since 2011, is to construct a new and improved library and renovate the historic Town Hall building. The new library would be larger, light-filled, offer more storage, and improve services such as additional computers for public use, according to the building plans.
Vermont Integrated Architecture will design the new building, which architect Andrea Kerz-Murray said will be a “net-zero energy ready building,” meaning that it will run entirely on electricity, and that if solar panels were placed on the roof, the building would not use more energy than it creates.
Kerz-Murray said the life expectancy of the new building will be 50-100 years.
The results of a survey conducted by the Town of Shelburne earlier this year showed that 56.9 percent of Shelburne residents support the project. But at the Tuesday night Selectboard meeting, both supporters and opponents offered opinions on the plan.
“This is the best solution for all of the problems the library has,” said Ruth Hagerman, chair of the Pierson Library board of trustees. “I’m not talking about problems like the roof leaking. If the roof leaks we’d just put a new roof on. The problems that the library has are problems that the library can’t solve in the structure that we’re in. We need more square footage, and we need more footage that is arranged differently, more flexibly, in order to be a library.”
Several community members and library patrons agreed with Hagerman, speaking passionately about the benefits that the library brings to Shelburne.
But not everyone at the meeting agreed. Several Shelburne residents expressed concern about the high cost of the project, which is currently estimated to be $6,500,000, a price that Selectboard Board Chair Gary von Stange said makes this the largest bond item that Shelburne has ever put on a ballot.
According to a graph presented at the meeting, property taxes would go up around $100 per year for the owner of a $300,000 property, for the years the project is estimated to have the biggest impact on the budget, likely 2020-2021. Several citizens wanted to know more about the fiscal consequences of the new building and urged both the Selectboard and the project committee to look into reducing project costs wherever possible.