By Adam Strunk
Newton’s future library project began a new chapter Tuesday with the city authorizing designs and plans for the library to be put out to bid.
The project, estimated to cost $10.7 million, has been in the works in Newton for more than a decade. Work began on the current plan in 2019. The city committed $4.5 million. The library board has committed or paid in a total of $2.76 million to the project. A successful fundraising campaign brought in $3.2 million, a half million more than the original goal.
“You asked them to put skin in the game, and they did,” City Engineer Suzanne Loomis said to the Newton City Commission at its Tuesday meeting. “We’re really pleased about that.”
The commission approved putting the library drawings and project out to bid and will review bids at a Dec. 27 meeting.
“This is a great day for the library and for our community,” Cari Cusick, library director, said in a press release. “This project has been in the works for more than a decade, and it’s exciting to see it take such a huge leap ahead.”
The new 25,000-square-foot library will be built on the east side of Military Park, and once it’s constructed, the existing library will be demolished.
According to the release from the Newton Public Library, “The new building will have children’s, teen and adult areas on a single level and will be fully accessible. New features will include a drive-through window, study rooms and meeting rooms, as well as updated seating areas, children’s and teen spaces. An indoor/outdoor seating area will connect the library to Military Park, with the iconic train remaining in the park.”
It’s not been easy going for the project after a pandemic hit as it was being planned and fundraising was taking place. Increased costs then drove up estimates for the library from $8 million to $11 million, and changes in the design were made to curtail costs.
The changes left fundraisers needing to surpass their initial goal, and they did.
According to a breakdown in the press release, of the money raised by the fundraising campaign, more than $1 million has been given by foundations, more than $320,000 by businesses and organizations, and almost $1.8 million by individuals. The City of North Newton–whose residents are able to use the library–has also pledged $100,000 to the project.
“We wouldn’t be at this point without all of the generous donors who have supported this campaign, and we are so grateful for them,” said Ann Adrian, fundraising campaign co-chair, in the release. “It’s amazing to see how this community–and donors and foundations outside of Newton–have stepped up to invest in the new library. I think it shows just how critical public libraries are to our communities and how libraries positively impact so many people.”