Neighbors say new library location threatens privacy

By Lauren Zaknoun | May 24, 2016
Photo by: Lauren Zaknoun Architect Joelle Szerdi of Oudens Ello Architecture provided an overview of the current plans for the North Dartmouth Library to be constructed on Cross Road.

Neighbors of the proposed location for a new library branch said they are worried about their privacy at a May 24 presentation of design plans.

The new library will replace the North Dartmouth Library at 1383 Tucker Road, which is currently set for demolition during a 2019 project connecting Tucker and Hathaway roads. The favored location for a new branch is on Cross Road, north of Potter Elementary.

Several residential neighbors voiced their concerns to the Library Building Committee and town officials and proposed moving the 14,857 square-foot facility deeper into the woods of its 10.5-acre property. Architect Joelle Szerdi of Oudens Ello assured attendees that the plans are “very, very preliminary” and are subject to change.

“We’re trying to be sensitive with our site lines,” she said, stressing the importance of a buffer zone with the neighboring lots.

In the latest library plan, the street entrance leads behind the facility to a parking lot to help maximize visibility from the street. The building’s lobby will contain a self-checkout and holds section, a circulation desk, and a high demand/new books section. An outdoor patio at the end of the lobby will connect the building to Potter Elementary.

Visible from the main circulation desk will be a large adult reading section and a children’s wing. The building will contain a meeting room—accessible during off-hours for meetings—that can seat about 100 people, Szerdi said. Though the attic won’t be utilized, the roof and its construction leave space to accommodate solar panels. The basement will house mechanical and water service facilities.

Project manager Dan Pallotta said the project will be voted on in three stages: a vote to accept a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), a vote to accept the basic plan, and a vote in “appropriation after the grants are announced.” Due to an insufficient number of board members, nothing could be voted on at Tuesday’s meeting.

The current 3,600 square-foot North Dartmouth Library was constructed in the 1960s, has a maximum capacity of 50 people—including staff—and hinders events and children’s reading groups, said library director Lynne Antunes.

The new facility will be triple that size, Szerdi confirmed. The library is projected to serve Allen Street to Freetown, said select board member Shawn McDonald.

Although all 34 libraries applying for the MBLC grants will receive funding, it will be on a priority basis. To qualify, the new building must be able to service the town for the next 20 years. The due date for the letter of intent is January 17, 2017.

Even if the project were to be approved and placed at the top of the MBLC’s grant priority list, construction would not begin until 2019.

The new library project dates back to June 1998 when the Library Needs Study Committee was established, said Library Building Committee Chairman Suzanne McDonald. Town Meeting voters defeated efforts to create a new library branch in 2005.

Dartmouth’s second library, Southworth Library, is located at 732 Dartmouth Street.

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