I want to applaud the incredible work our library is doing currently while the schools are closed and most families are compelled to stay home. Lisa Oldham and her team are working every day to provide both virtual services from movies and e-new services to live-streaming programming and helping us stay connected during this crazy moment in time. Truly the library is our intellectual and social hub in our community. All these services are free to our residents and my family is grateful every day of our new confinement that the library is stepping up to be so supportive of our town.
I was saddened [Thursday] when I received the postcard from the “Preservation Alliance” to stop the capital campaign for a year in order to accommodate the preservation of the 1913 library building. Though preservation of historical buildings and respecting the traditions of our town must be given detailed consideration for new municipal buildings, it should be noted that years of discussion and focus groups with the public and local town government officials have been conducted as well as careful consideration of including the 1913 building in the new plans have been explored. The consensus after these years of work is to move forward with the plans promulgated to the town. The library has raised $16 million in 16 months towards this new building—a tacit approval of the town residents that this is what the majority wants.
The minority members of the preservation alliance have not had any open discussion groups with Town and offer a mere drawing showing how the old building can be accommodated in a future site plan. They want a year delay to see if they can save the 1913 building but offer no financial support of their idea beyond spending other peoples’ money—both from the town and redirecting capital campaign funds -to support their vision. Our town needs this new library to remain on par with our peer towns in Fairfield County. The financial tsunami that is about to wash over our country needs all community associations to be fighting every day to help all our neighbors. I find this preservation alliance, though admirable in its architectural and preservation intent, out of touch with where the world is now and incredibly mean spirited and harmful to our community.
Our bedroom communities are on our knees fighting first this virus and then walking the long financial road to recovery. All of us need to join together in this fight and not promote the divisiveness and personal attacks that I have witnessed regarding the plans for the new building. As our library is demonstrating every day how important it is to our community, let us follow their example and give of ourselves to our community both in donations of time and any extra money we may have. And if you need guidance as to how to be helpful and put your own skin in the game, check out the library’s website- its full of ideas and information on how you can get involved. Let’s come together and preserve our entire community and way of life.
Katherine Wehrle Kend