TIVERTON — Tiverton broke ground on its dream for a new library Saturday as a crowd gathered at the site where the $10.6 million facility will stand.
It was a gorgeous fall day, and “standing room only” for the ceremony, said Leon Hoyer, a trustee and chairman of the Library Building Committee.
Sometime early in 2015 the new 23,000-square-foot structure will occupy the space that lies just southwest of the intersection of Bulgarmarsh and Crandall Road.
“It is said that people make up a town’s body,” Town Council President Ed Roderick told the crowd. “If so, then our schools are its brain, police and fire departments are its arms to serve and protect, our churches its soul, and a library is its heart and imagination.”
A library, Mr. Roderick said, “is more than bricks and mortar. it is a place where you can take a sailing ship across an unknown ocean and discover a new continent or take a rocket ship into the cosmos. You can go back into the past and meet Egyptian Pharaohs or into the future and visit far off galaxies. You can get to know Albert Einstein or Albert Brooks, Pilgrims surviving their first winter or Martin Luther King on the Washington Mall.”
Chairman of the Library Board of Trustees Barbara Donnelly said, “It was a very long journey, and we weathered all the storms with the help of a lot of people.”
Among those was Senator Jack Reed, present for the ceremony, who was instrumental in securing the $475,000 in the 2009 appropriations bill that enabled Tiverton to buy the land for the building.
“Today we are breaking ground on a new building that will only enhance and underscore the value of the library to the residents of Tiverton,” Senator Reed said.
“Libraries are essential to the future of our country — to our economy, to our civic values, to our sense of community – and to giving everyone the opportunity to succeed,” he said. “It seems Tiverton has recognized this essential truth about libraries, what Andrew Carnegie once said: ‘A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.’ ”
Congressman David N. Cicilline said, “The start of construction on a new public library in Tiverton will create jobs, expand educational opportunities, and strengthen Rhode Island’s local communities. Through its use of new, cutting-edge forms of technology to better connect local residents, this new library will serve as a model for other cities and towns across our great state.”
Tiverton’s library benefitted from financial support across a broad spectrum.
A little over $4 million (spread over 20 years) came in the form of support from the state. That amount “was the second largest grant to a public library in Rhode Island’s history,” said Karen Mellor, state director for library services.
“It was an exciting day,” she said of the groundbreaking ceremony. “In the 14 years I’ve been working on library construction projects, I’ve not seen such a diverse array of funding or such a wide-ranging base of financial support.”.
“I always marvel at the volunteers in the community who really believe in the role of a library and work to make it become a reality.”
Ms. Donnelly said “it’s going to be extremely exciting when I actually see the backhoes in the ground. People are going to love it.”
Following Saturday’s half hour groundbreaking ceremony, a reception at nearby Sandywoods featured a large cake with a facsimile of the new library etched in frosting.
Clearing work on the site has already started at the site, said Mr. Hoyer, a process that with tree-cutting and rock-removal should take about two months.