Friday, February 07, 2014
More than five years in the making, the Westport Library tonight formally began the municipal approval process for a 20,000-square foot expansion of its Jesup Green building its has estimated will cost $25 million.
Library board members and the public told the Planning and Zoning Commission that the expansion was badly needed and that it would enhance Westport’s ability to meet changing demands.
First Selectman Jim Marpe, who, by state statute, must initiate any application for use of town property, outlined the request, known as an 8-24 approval.
He and other speakers said the library’s role had changed from lending books to becoming technically advanced learning centers and that the Westport facility had outgrown its capacity to serve the public.
Julie Belaga, a library board member and former P&Z chair, state representative, and unsuccessful candidate for governor, said the library’s plans would not make major alterations to the library’s footprint along the Saugatuck River.
“It will enhance dramatically the appearance of Jesup Green,” she said.
As commission members questioned the need for the expansion, impact on parking, and how it would be coordinated with the ongoing development of a downtown master plan, former Police Chief Ron Malone became disturbed.
“You need to improve your body language,” he told commission members. “It’s very important. I teach that to cops. You need to show you are in favor.”
The commission took no action on the request but must do so within the next two months by state statute. If the commission issues a negative report on the request, it may be overturned by the Representative Town Meeting (RTM).
Posted 02/07/14 at 03:15 AM
Perfect timing! As we develop, improve and modernize our downtown area, we absolutely should include the library. Bringing this town gem into the 21st century is a must for a town like Westport.
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