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Meriden library building may have a new home across the street

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    Amy and Tom Lappin hope to purchase the Meriden Library building on Bean Road in Meriden, N.H., from the Town of Plainfield and move it to their nearby property to become a "restaurant/guest house/inn." (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • Beth Kopp of Plainfield leaves the Meriden Library with A Wrinkle In Time which she intends to read with her daughter Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. Though Kopp lives on the other side of town, nearer to the Philip Read Memorial Library, she habitually uses the Meriden Library because she says it was the first library she joined after moving to the town. (Valley News - James M. Patterson)

    Copyright © Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

    James M. Patterson

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/31/2021 9:31:43 PM
Modified: 8/31/2021 9:33:34 PM

PLAINFIELD — The Meriden library building that welcomed patrons to peruse its book stacks since 1965 might get a second life catering to out-of-town visitors and wedding parties.

Plainfield residents Thom and Amy Lappin are offering to purchase the brick structure on Bean Road and move it across the street.

There, they operate Poor Thom’s Tavern, a staple of Meriden Village that the couple hopes to expand with a small barn for functions and a bed and breakfast capable of serving one family at a time.

Their proposal, which is still being negotiated with town officials, could be finalized in the coming weeks, according to Plainfield Town Administrator Steve Halleran.

If a favorable deal is reached, he said, the town wants the library moved by mid-October to make way for a new 4,000-square-foot structure approved at Town Meeting.

“I think most people in town, frankly, think that reusing that building — having it still serve a purpose in Meriden Village — is a good idea,” Halleran said Tuesday.

Town officials had initially proposed tearing down the old library building, a small two-story structure about a quarter-mile from Kimball Union Academy, to make way for its $1.16 million replacement, which has already received more than $900,000 in private donations.

However, Halleran said, that approach was reconsidered by the Selectboard, which opted to instead ask if someone could use the building. Earlier this year, the town took out an ad in the Valley News asking for a buyer for the “removal of all materials.”

“That proposal could be for anything. It wasn’t that you had to move it. But we just wanted it off the site,” the town administrator said. “The only people who responded were Thom and Amy Lappin.”

In a June 18 letter, the couple offered $1 for the building, planning to move it and leave the foundation in place, a proposition that Halleran estimates could save the town $20,000 off a roughly $35,000 demolition price tag.

Halleran said the town would still be on the hook for demolishing the foundation, and it might be responsible for asbestos removal in the building itself.

“What gives them a huge advantage is that their business is directly across the street from the library,” he said, adding the location could save the Lappins on a costly move.

Amy Lappin, who was elected to the Selectboard in March, said in a phone interview that their offer was made only after no one else bid on the building. She’s since recused herself from discussions about the library building.

“Nobody put an offer on the building, and it’s just sort of a shame that this somewhat historic building was just going to be torn down,” said Amy Lappin, who also is deputy director of the Lebanon Public Libraries. “We started talking about it and thought, ‘Well, it might make a neat place for people to stay.’ ”

The Lappins had already planned to expand their business. People often request renting a portion of the tavern for private events, but the current configuration can’t accommodate both the busy restaurant and functions, Amy Lappin said.

In July, the couple went before the Plainfield Zoning Board to request approval for a 30-by-30-foot barn that could host events as well as a “single unit of lodging.”

Both were greenlighted, although the board did say that functions must have no more than 75 people, have no amplified outdoor music and be finished by 9 p.m.

That proposal, which also includes the addition of 22 new parking spots, would have to go before the Planning Board as well.

“At this point, we think it can be moved,” Amy Lappin said of the library. “We have the land that we could do it. We just have some more things to consider.”

However, some Plainfield residents have questioned the deal, saying it may be possible for the town to get more for the library.

Vernon Braswell, who lives in Plainfield Village, pointed out that the almost 1-acre library property is assessed at more than $300,000, and he estimated that asbestos removal could cost $15,000.

“It would probably sell for much higher given the current surge in home sales in today’s market,” he wrote in a letter to town officials.

Braswell added that there was “zero effort or incentive to sell the building,” and criticized the town for taking out only a newspaper ad to announce its availability.

Both Halleran, the town administrator, and Amy Lappin contested the notion that there’s any sweetheart deal in the works.

Amy Lappin said she understands Braswell’s criticism, but no one else is stepping forward to take the building. If there were another offer, she said, she would encourage the town to explore it.

Meanwhile, Halleran said the town won’t sell the land the library sits on. Doing so, he said, would force officials to seek a new library location and push back construction.

“It seems like it’s a win for everybody,” he said of negotiations. “The Meriden Library project saves a little bit of money (and) the library continues to be used.”

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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