Many feel this old Truro building has potential to be just that
New library site?
TRURO - A former hat factory building is being considered as a potential site for a new regional library.
"Right now, we seem to have the OK of the library board to pursue discussions," Mayor Bill Mills said, regarding the former Truro Bowling Lanes at the corner of Prince and Court streets.
"It looks pretty good," he said. "We just have to enter into some discussions and see what the bottom line is going to be."
The building was once part of the Lewis Hat Factory facility and has served as a warehouse for a moving and storage company and later as a bowling alley. In recent years, it has been used for storage.
Although the building would require extensive renovations to convert it into modern library space, one positive aspect of the site is that it basically fits the configuration and specifications recommended in a consultant's report prepared for the town in 2007.
The existing library, constructed in 1968, consists of 16,000 sq. ft. while a layout consisting of 34,054 sq. ft. was recommended for the new facility.
"They fit that building, ironically enough," Mills said, of the building specifications at the proposed site. "So that means all that work and the study that we did with the consultants won't go to waste."
The site was actually given consideration by the library board in 1997 and following a recent meeting its members were "quite enthusiastic" at the prospect it offers, he said.
Library director Janet Pelley said while it is too early in the process to break down the pros and cons of the site, the library revitalization committee is open to considering all available options.
"I think it has great potential if it turned out to be affordable for all parties," she said, while adding, however, that "a lot more discussion and exploration" are required before any final decisions are made.
Mills said the consultant's report estimated building a new library could cost between $9 million and $13 million, with time and escalating construction costs factored in.
"We want to sit down and look at, based on the consultant's report, what a new library will cost (to build)," he said, compared to what it would cost to lease the former bowling alley/warehouse, which is owned by the Snook Group.
Mills said the town will also have to consider how the library project will impact on other town initiatives and what funding might be available, whether through federal programs or regional users, such as the Municipality of Colchester.
"It will have to go through budget, so there will be nothing decided for sure until April 1st," he said.
What is not in question, however, is the need for a new resource facility.
"Hopefully, help is on the way for the library staff," Mills said. "They are pretty cramped and the building is in bad shape. So, either way, we're going to have to do something."
In addition to requiring a new roof at the existing library, Pelley said, the boiler, which was installed when the facility was built some 42 years ago, also needs to be replaced. Some of the carpeting is also original, she said, and the community room on the lower level is experiencing signs of dampness.
"It could be a major problem, we don't know."
Whatever decision is made regarding a new facility, however, remaining in the existing library is not a long-term option.
"We're pleased to be discussing this with the town," Pelley said.