Regarding the proposed demolition of the 1913 NC Library: Three generations of New Canaan Tuttles have dearly loved the warm embrace of the 1913 Landmark Library building.
Demolishing this structure, and carelessly removing yet another element of New Canaan’s soul in the name of progress, is a grave mistake. We welcome and support a new and modern library facility, but only with the proviso that the demolition be stopped. New Canaan taxpayer dollars should not be used to fund the razing of a beloved structure, when feasibility studies have shown that it can be saved and repurposed for other uses.
Lynne Ruane Tuttle
If keeping the 1913 library in place is made a ‘condition’ of your vote, opportunities for use of this fine historic building will follow. By reinforcing the value of both buildings and creating a shared community space, we can blend history and modernity, and strengthen a unique identity for our Town.
The Harvard Five, the Glass House and the ‘amazing’ Grace Farms is one identify New Canaan benefits from. The second is a safe New England village tradition; good schools and parks, our Historic District, and the Historical Society’s Museum campus – all attract ‘expats’ from surrounding urban areas to come live here.
Your vote in support of both traditions will signal something special and provide a testing ground for a progressive future many of us who, not directly involved in the library’s planning process, have not yet been heard from. An affirmative vote by your board will open doors.
Costly? Yes. But as a community we always come forward when an outstanding project needs support. By providing a tangible link to tradition and innovation in a centrally located block in the very heart of town, your vote will bring public enjoyment and economic benefits. Reuse and ‘better use’ are always welcome!
For some time now I’ve been curious about the funding details surrounding our new library project currently before the Board of Finance. In reviewing the library projections submitted two difficulties present themselves. First, the estimates lack specificity. It appears difficult to judge the soundness of estimates submitted that are so lacking in detail. The projected estimates should itemize hard numbers broken down by line item such as steel, concrete, masonry, glazing, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, etc. They should also delineate estimated costs for interiors and finishes. This the only manner in which we can know how the price per square foot for the entire project – which is almost 20% lower than the industry standards – has been fairly assessed. In addition one has to wonder if these numbers accurately reflect the new added costs that Covid-19 compliance will require. It seems to this humble observer that a fairer estimate would add between $10 to $15 million in actual costs.
Second, the additional layer of financing the library has arranged with Bankwell would seem to bear this out. But then perhaps it reflects an uncertainty regarding the extent of the outstanding promises made by the town’s generous contributors. Some contributors have since come to regret their contributions, ignorant that it would also underwrite the destruction of the old library building. In either case it involves an addition potential $15 million financial commitment above and beyond $10 million currently under consideration. That additional secondary layer of finance will ultimately fall to the taxpayer and I might add at a higher interest rate than available in the municipal capital markets.
At this juncture It would seem prudent for the Board of Finance to request the details necessary to provide a clearer picture of the actual physical and financing costs for the new library. It might be time to ask if this is a prudent investment or if in fact a new 48,000 sq/ft. library is more expansive and more expensive than we need or can reasonably afford. On the other hand it is possible that the library has brilliantly negotiated favorable architectural, engineering and other service fees and along with that it’s possible that the $15 million Bankwell loan package will never be drawn upon, but it is hard to weight those possibilities without being presented with far more detail than is currently at hand.
So in closing I urge the Board of Finance request the library be more forthcoming with these details as regards the due diligence the Board and we the taxpayers are owed.