South

KINGSTON

Voters to decide whether to fund new library

Kingston voters will have their say soon on whether they would spend $8.9 million to match a state grant of $6.9 million for a new public library that officials say is badly needed.

The first vote will take place at a special Town Meeting on Nov. 14, and if it passes the second would take place on Dec. 5.

The debt exclusion measure would allow the town to borrow its share of the funding, a move that will add about $170 to the property tax bill of the owner of an average home, valued at about $363,500. Library director Sia Stewart said the cost to taxpayers will decrease over the 20 years of the loan and other fund-raising measures are also underway.

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“If Kingston doesn’t accept the [state] grant, it will go to another community,” Stewart said.

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She said the current library is a former telephone switching station that was renovated in 1994. Despite creative approaches, it is now too small to hold the library collections and provide spaces for teens, quiet study, and technology training, she said.

Since 1994, the town’s population has grown by 50 percent and borrowing at the library has tripled. The new construction will increase the overall size from about 13,000 square feet to about 20,400, and the designed will be more flexible.

“The role of the library is to be a community resource. People often feel a lot more isolated these days. The library is a place for sharing common ground and for providing a space that is welcoming to everyone,” Stewart said.

Elaine Cushman Carroll can be reached at elaine_carroll@msn.com.