Anonymous donor gives $500,000 gift for library project

Photo by Tom Kearney
The children’s section at Pierson Library awaits the arrival of the after-school crowd.

“Speechless” is the way Shelburne Town Manager Joe Colangelo described his reaction to a $500,000 donation to build a new Pierson Library and make other improvements at the town center complex.

A Shelburne family has donated $50,000 for the project, and will match community donations up to $500,000.

Colangelo disclosed the gift in his weekly report on Friday, after meeting in person with the donor on Friday morning.

“The town is definitely accepting,” Colangelo said, and the donor wants to remain anonymous.

The gift is intended to provide an incentive for neighbors to contribute matching funds for the project, Colangelo explained, with an initial $50,000 given and $450,000 then conditional on matching donations from the community.

“The reasons provided for the donations were: 1. to reduce the burden on property taxpayers; 2. their love of Shelburne; 3. the value they place on the role of a public library as an inclusive place for all,” Colangelo reported.

The plan for library development has been in the works since 2011. It involves building a new and improved library, designed by Vermont Integrated Architecture, and renovations for the historic Town Hall building and improvements to traffic access to the municipal campus.

The project has a $6.5 million price tag, and will be financed with a bond issue that voters will consider in a ballot vote Nov. 7.

The $500,000 gift, with matching community funds, would cut $1 million off the amount the town needs to borrow, to a total of $5.5 million. Colangelo estimates that would save property taxpayers $5 per $100,000 of assessed value per year.

“The town has been able to fund all of the preconstruction work up until now with donations and grants,” Colangelo said. “We don’t have any more money left in the account for the actual building of the library.”

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