A long time coming
A story in today's Citizen highlights the building proposal and its long history on the agenda of the library trustees.
While the overcrowing originally was noted in 1905, the current effort really began in 1988 when the trustees proposed acquiring an abutting piece of property — at the time a service station — for future building expansion. In 1990, the trustees obtained copies of blueprints that had been drawn up in 1932 so they would not be starting from scratch as they looked toward an expansion, recognizing those plans would have to be adapted to current legal requirements.
In 1994, the trustees received $29,500 from the estate of Frederick W. Storm, a resident whose legacy also includes the "Storm Center" — a backup well for the municipal water system. Storm left the money to the library with the stipulation that half would go toward operating expenses, the other half for expansion of the library building. There had been similar donations since the early part of the century from people who recognized the need for more space.
In 1995 the trustees enlisted the help of architect Chris Williams of Meredith to develop plans for the addition but a year later halted the effort "[d]ue to the high cost of expansion" and in recognition that "any expansion will increase operating costs".
By 1999, however, they were ready to proceed and had Williams develop three proposals for consideration. Again, "The rough estimates for each are in excess of the Trustees' belief of what could b reasonably expected to be acceptable to the voters of the Town of Bristol both as to cost and design," the trustees wrote in their annual report to the town. "Therefore, we have terminated the study. However, expansion of the building and facilities is something that must be addressed by the Trustees and the voters in the near future."
"In the near future" was the recurring theme since 1905 and, indeed, in 2001, the trustees formed a steering committee to assist in future expansion plans.
In 2003, the trustees engaged architect David King to assist in planning the addition but the proposal was killed when it went before the voters in 2005.
Finally, in 2006, voters agreed to the purchase of the adjoining property as proposed in 1988, and the following year the Friends of Minot-Sleeper Library obtained 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, allowing them to accept tax-deductible contributions toward the project.
And so, six years later, voters are being asked for the third time in as many years to approve the addition which has been so long in coming. Having missed by only a few votes last year and with a greatly reduced price this year, trustees are hoping that, finally, they will get their addition.