Sen. Kevin Witkos and Rep. Tim LeGeyt Pleased Avon Free Public Library Project will Receive State Grant

August 20, 2010

HARTFORD – Rep. Tim LeGeyt, of Avon and Canton, and Sen. Kevin Witkos of the 8th Senate district which includes the town of Avon, were pleased with the Bond Commission’s approval of the remaining $1 million for the completion funding of the Avon Free Public Library expansion project. The Avon Free Public Library was originally built in 1982 and has since outgrown its capacity.

The funding will be used to increase seating capacity, expand the storage area for library collections, create new areas for research and public meetings, and upgrade and expand computer work spaces.

“This is a much anticipated project for the people of Avon. The new renovations will allow more users to enjoy the benefits of the public library and to experience learning in a new way with updated technology space and expanded capacities. Along with benefiting the people of Avon, this new project will aid Connecticut construction jobs and provide work in the local area,” said Rep. LeGeyt after the meeting.

“For generations, public libraries have enhanced our communities with history, literature, science, art and so much more. The library is a staple of community life and public education here in Avon and I couldn’t be more pleased to see the grant approval go through,” said Sen. Witkos in a statement.

The Governor released a statement saying, “the Avon Free Library has simply outgrown its current building – and that is a good thing, Connecticut’s public libraries are an invaluable resource for their communities and the demand for Avon’s library proves the point. Since the current building was completed in 1982, the population of Avon has increased by more than 50 percent. Circulation has increased by more than 30 percent in just the last 10 years. It is clear that the current building can no longer meet the community’s needs.”

According to a statement from the Governor’s office, more than half of the residents of Avon hold library cards and the library recorded more than 205,000 visits in 2008-09, an average of nearly 12 visits per resident.

The Avon Library Board first applied to the State Library Board, which oversees state grants for municipal library projects, with completed plans for the expansion in 2008.

Mary LaBelle Suter, President of the Avon Library Board of Directors said, “We’ve been planning this expansion for 6 or 7 years and are very appreciative of the Governor for requesting that the Bond Commission consider the grant’s approval.”

“Senator Witkos and I, in partnership with the Avon Free Public Library board and many local officials and community leaders, have advocated for this project for quite some time. The Avon library is an integral part of the community and the new public meeting space is much needed. We couldn’t be more pleased with the Governor’s choice to put it in this week’s agenda and for the Bond Commission’s approval as a worthy project,” said LeGeyt.

Diane Hornaday, Chairperson of the Building Committee for the expansion project said, “The design of the building, thanks to architect Peter Well of Tuthill & Wells, is such that it is flexible and adaptable. Uses in libraries change and I believe this design will allow us to adapt and change with the times. We’ll be able to offer more to the community from research materials to fiction as well as better community space and storage areas. The new public meeting rooms that will be created as part of the expansion project will be available for use even when the library itself is closed. This new design will meet many of the community needs in an adaptable cost effective manner that will benefit Avon for years to come.”

The overall cost of the project is an estimated $9.5 million. A total of $8 million in borrowed funding was approved by Avon voters and the public library’s Board of Trustees will raise another for $500,000. The final $1 million grant needed for the completion of the project was approved during this Tuesday’s Bond Commission meeting.

“The Town of Avon is grateful that the $1 million grant for the addition and renovation of the Avon Public Library has been approved by the State Bond Commission. This grant is a critical component of the overall funding plan for the project,” said Avon Town Manager Brandon Robertson.

Donna Miller, Assistant Director of the Avon Free Public Library responded to the news of the state funding with relief and joy. “We are absolutely thrilled the state funding was approved… Many members of the community, including parents with their children and some of our area senior citizens, stopped by the library to informally celebrate the news and show their support for the library expansion,” said Miller.

“I am delighted and very appreciative of the many people in the community who have supported this project. I specifically want to thank Senator Witkos, Rep. LeGeyt, Rep. Bye, and Brandon Robertson our Town Manager for working tirelessly on our behalf to see the project through in Hartford. It was a concerted effort by so many people,” said Hornaday.

“Our residents and those representing us in Hartford recognize the important role municipal libraries play in enriching the community. The Avon Free Public Library is very popular and we’ve known for years its resources have been taxed because it is too small to fully service the needs of the community. We are very pleased to see the expansion funding finally go through,” said Suter.

“Public libraries, much like our public schools, are places that cultivate learning, growth and community life. The Avon Free Public Library is located in almost the direct geographical center of town; symbolic, I think, of its place in the community. We’re all pleased with this week’s good news,” said LeGeyt.