An open, public space. Natural sunlight. Equal access. "A place where people come together."
In looking at options for a renovated library in Ridgefield -- and thus defining what a future library might be -- Ridgefield's library board has explored ways to bring its "valued asset," the current form of which has been described as a "model of inefficiency," into the 21st century.
"The key is a flexible, open layout," said Peter Coffin, chair of the library board.
The board has employed a rigorous private fundraising campaign resulting in $13.8 million so far to renovate the building and bring the library up to today's standards, Coffin said. Asking for $5 million from the town on top of a $15 million commitment, the board is looking to have a February 28 referendum to move the project along.
Without the February referendum, members of the board said there would be a $150 thousand cost in additional construction fees and interim rentals.
But one of the big questions for the Board of Selectmen was whether the appropriation should happen in a separate referendum or during the regular budget cycle in a few months.
First Selectman Rudy Marconi showed support earlier this month with particular emphasis on saving money with the earlier referendum, but said also that there are "still a lot of questions to be answered."
Town surveys have shown that a majority of Ridgefielders support the project, as well. But there are detractors who say now, in a national recession, is not the time to invest in these renovations.
Phillip Lodewick, one of the library campaign heads, said: "Do it once, do it right, do it now."
Library Director Chris Nolan is optimistic.
"We're in a very strong position," Nolan said.