Royalton Details Library Renovation Plans

  • An architect's drawing shows the new addition, at left, proposed for the Royalton Memorial Library. (Courtesy Town of Royalton) Courtesy Town of Royalton

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 1/10/2019 12:17:02 AM
Modified: 1/10/2019 12:17:11 AM

South Royalton — The Royalton Memorial Library board of trustees is hopeful revised plans for renovating and expanding the nearly century-old building will scale the project back to the $750,000 price tag approved by voters in a 2017 bond vote.

Board President Cynthia Dalrymple said plans presented at Tuesday night’s Selectboard meeting would eliminate expansion into the third-floor attic but still allow for a two-story, approximately 1,500-square-foot addition to help create administrative and meeting space as well as larger browsing areas.

A new ground-level entrance facing Safford Street would be built to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and allow patrons to access an elevator, while the current entrance area, a set of concrete stairs facing Alexander Place, would be converted into emergency exits on both floors.

Trustees have cooperated diligently over the last several months with Theron Manning, a South Royalton resident and retired director of engineering at Gifford Medical Center, in order to downsize the project after cost estimates last spring ranged from $1 million to $1.2 million, not including the addition of a sprinkler system and water line that might have been required with the addition of a third floor of usable space because of fire codes.

Voters in October 2017 had approved a $750,000 bond for the project, and the cost disparity caused a veritable impasse between the trustees and Selectboard.

In April, the Selectboard called for a “timeout” on the project and fired the architect originally hired by the library.

Now working with Woodstock-based Upland Construction, library trustees expect to have a cost estimate for the new plan finalized by Feb. 1, Dalrymple said in a Wednesday phone interview.

“Everyone on the library board is very happy,” Dalrymple said, adding that she expects to present the Selectboard with more detailed design specs to review at its Feb. 12 meeting. “We’ve worked really hard, and I think we did what we wanted to accomplish.”

The project also would install new heating and lighting systems as well as new interior paint and storm windows in the existing building, and convert an unused wood fireplace into one that emits gas-powered heat, Dalrymple said. The addition would include a children’s room, administration room and meeting room while creating more space for the library’s burgeoning collection of books and other media.

“It’s something we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Dalrymple said. “We’re running out of space.”

Nearly two-thirds of the costs for a project running at $750,000 would be offset by about $230,000 in refundable grants and another $222,000 in donations library trustees have garnered, according to Dalrymple.

The new plans on Tuesday were received well by the Selectboard and Town Administrator Rose Hemond, according to Selectboard member Chris Noble, the Selectboard’s liaison to the library.

“Most of the changes they made are internal and do not affect the benefits that users of the library voted in favor of,” Noble said. “Removing the third-floor storage area makes for a substantial difference because of all of the associated costs. You would not only be talking about a sprinkler system, but also having to reinforce the floors below it, essentially rebuilding the structure of the building.”

Hemond, reached by phone on Wednesday, voiced cautious hope that the trustees’ new plan would fall within the approved $750,000.

“Until we get the final numbers, it’s just speculation,” Hemond said. “That being said, I think the Selectboard appreciates all of the efforts the library trustees have put into this project. They know they’ve worked really hard.”

An “open house” to introduce the revised plans to patrons and residents will be held at the library sometime later this month, Dalrymple said.

Jared Pendak can be reached at or 603-727-3216.

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