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Mendon Library Trustees Looking into Purchasing St. Michaels

The Taft Public Library will be asking to the town to purchase St. Michael's Church as a new library for Mendon.



Taft Public Library Trustee Susan Darnell came before the Board of Selectmen to discuss the opportunity to purchase St. Michaels on North St. in order to provide the community a larger and better-equipped Taft Public Library. Darnell spoke to the Board during a July 25 meeting.

St. Michaels Parish merged with Holy Angels in Upton to build the new St. Gabriel's Church. As a result, St. Michaels put its parish building on the market, which is currently listed for $525,000. The price would include the building itself, the rectory, and two acres of land.

"It's a tremendous opportunity that I'd really hate to lose," said Darnell, who added that St. Michaels officials are giving the Library Trustees first right of refusal to purchase the church.

Darnell asked the Board if it would be possible to bring a debt exclusion before the town to purchase the building. Darnell explained if a 20-year debt exclusion passed, the estimated tax impact to a $200,000 home would be a $9 increase. A $600,000 home would see an increase of $28. "That's the price of a hardcover book," she said.

According to Darnell, the $525,000 price tag is much lower than the cost for new construction. However, she added that once purchased, the building would need an estimated $100,000 for renovations and moving costs. The Taft Library Trustees are currently looking into private grants and fundraising to be put towards the purchase and renovations.

The current library is just 2,000 square feet resulting in space issues for lending materials, staff, and programs. In addition, it has structural concerns, is not energy efficient or handicapped accessible. St. Michaels is an 8,000 square foot building and would provide plenty of needed space and parking, and is handicapped accessible.

Trustee Bob Carlson was also in attendance at the meeting and said an engineer examined St. Michaels and found it to be structurally sound and that solar panels could be placed on the building to help reduce heating costs.

The Board stated it fully supported the Trustees pursuing the purchase of St. Michaels and asked to be kept up-to-date on any additional information, including when St. Michael's officials need a commitment on the purchase. Should the Board agree to place a debt exclusion vote on a warrant, they stated it would likely take place during the 2012 May Annual Town Meeting followed by a ballot vote.

In other news that evening, the Board approved the formation of a three to five member committee to research dissolving the Mendon-Upton Regional School District. The Board's vote comes after the Upton Board of Selectmen formed the same type of committee recently.

Selectman Chair Michael Goddard initially wanted Mendon and Upton to take part in a joint committee. However, both Selectmen Lawney Tinio and Mike Ammendolia believed that Mendon needed to form its own committee. "I believe that Upton will do an outstanding job, but I think Mendon residents would want their own study," said Tinio. The Board hopes to have a committee in place by September.




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