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Vote YES – Let’s Save the Library and the Park – It’s a Win Win Proposal

A modern library in Center Memorial Park can be had at the minimal expense of .08 of an acre of green space.

A referendum vote will be held on election day on the proposal to expand Mary Cheney Library into Center Memorial Park. The most recent design requires the net conversion of only .08 of an acre of the Park’s seven acres, much less than the original plans. The alarm raised by opponents that the  park will be “ravished,” “destroyed,” “paved” – misleading at best – is now moot.

The plan is a win for both sides. While giving up a bit of the Park’s green space may still be a concern for some, it might help to know that Manchester has over 1,000 acres of parkland. The Cheney  “Great Lawn” being the most recent addition. Giving up a minuscule slice of green space for the sake of a modern library in this central location is a wise compromise. 

Another argument put forth against expansion in the park is that the Cheney family established the Park and wanted the area preserved as a park forever. That’s true, but they also promoted building the Library in that same park back in the 1930's. The original deed allows for additional municipal buildings in the northern part of the Park. Perhaps the Cheneys understood that one day the library would have to be updated and expanded.

The Cheneys promoted learning and community through their support of libraries and schools. Mary Cheney was a state of the art library in its time, but is no longer. They would be the first to demand a modernized library in the center of town.  

Out of respect for our history, tradition, practicality and economics, the Mary Cheney Library needs to stay where it is – in Center Memorial Park. The library is as much a  centerpiece of our downtown as is the Park. Both are important to our community. The library is  an icon on Main Street and a symbol of our thirst for knowledge.  It is popular with adults and children of all ages. It has the fourth highest circulation in the State – 1,000 people visit the library on the average day. That’s incredible. 1,000 people descend on the Main Street daily! That’s good for the community and good for business.

Jacinda Woodhead (Australian writer) wrote: “Libraries are not just warehouses that hold books. Libraries are hubs of learning and research, of interactivity and community – and this is what we have an obligation to preserve. How many free, comfortable places can one still go to to study? How many communal spaces are there in which learning, exploration and reading are fostered?”

Opponents cite the changing nature of libraries over time, pleading for more studies. But this issue has been discussed for more than a decade.  All the studies show that Mary Cheney Library is outdated, lacks handicapped accessibility and is in need of additional space for new library functions. After years of debate, it's time to move forward on this project. It will benefit thousands of our citizens of all ages. Plus, we get to keep the Park!

I encourage Manchester voters to vote “YES” on the library referendum.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Miriam Byroade October 05, 2012 at 04:39 PM
I'm so excited for this proposed expansion! Even with what the library is now, it's the fourth busiest in the state, I'm looking forward to the increase in programming space, quiet study space and more public seating. nice new bathrooms will be great as well!
Geoffrey King October 05, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Well said - let's hope that everyone turns out to support the library on election day.
Manchester Review Blog, Host: Jack Peak October 05, 2012 at 10:32 PM
A second image of the proposed library site plan has been uploaded. When you look at it, the library addition does not destroy the Park. Almost all of the green space remains. Again, only .08 of an acre is used.
Joel Mrosek October 05, 2012 at 11:02 PM
I will vote against the expansion for a number of reasons. I do not believe in the expansion of the library’s mission that requires more space, while fulfilling the traditional mission requires less. Additional space for community events and learning are available in other existing town buildings. Mary Cheney is the fourth most popular library in the state, with wholly inadequate parking. The current iteration does nothing to address that problem and will only make problems worse. The writer takes the liberty of speculating on what the Cheneys might propose, so I will as well. The Cheneys were big thinkers. They would find a more suitable place for the library and reuse the current building, not diminish the value of the park. A thoughtful approach would be to find a better use for the library and a suitable location for a new library. A viable suggestion would be to swap the Mary Cheney library with the current Senior Center. Seniors would enjoy the park and access to downtown offices and businesses. They require fewer parking spaces, eliminating the need for additional encroachment on the park. The Green School could be added on with ample parking and amenities. This exchange of buildings would further eliminate the vagrancy problem that has been present at Mary Cheney for 25 years. Lastly, neglecting to modernize Mary Cheney to conform to current life safety codes, handicap requirements and amenities should not be used to rationalize this expansion.
Jim Quaglia October 06, 2012 at 01:10 AM
I will also vote No on the library expansion referendum question. Many of the proponents of the plan are inferring that we who plan on voting against it are against libraries or what they offer. That is hardly the case. What we are for is making an intelligent decision in these tough economic times and asking that a new plan that takes into consideration the technology explosion be explored. Take the time to benchmark other communities and spend our hard earned tax dollars where we will get the most for our money. Currently, many of our schools are in a terrible state of disrepair and the Manchester school system is rated in the bottom 30 of all towns in the state. I find it very difficult to vote yes to spending 12.5 million dollars for a new library building when our Town leadership does not take care of the buildings we have. I encourage everyone to vote NO on the library referendum question and send our Town leadership a very clear message. Our children and grandchildren deserve better! Schools should come before a new library building that will be implementing an intrusive and out dated plan. Read the questions carefully and compare where our current Town leadership has directed our tax dollars. 12.5 million for the library and under 5 million for our children's future! Vote NO on Question Number 1.
Susan Barlow October 06, 2012 at 01:47 AM
In the proposed plan, the parking for the Probate Court, and the staff parking on the side of and behind the library is taken away. The 10,000-square-foot addition sits on some of that parking, so where would library patrons park? Manchester's zoning regulations say that a 10,000 square foot building requires an additional 40 OFF-STREET parking spaces for facilities that provide programming, as our library currently does. Adding the current building and the addition, for a total of 24,000 square feet, would require 96 off-street parking places. Off-street means in a lot -- not on a busy street and not across a street. That is a zoning requirement in Manchester -- at least it is for businesses and churches. But not for our library? It does not make sense to expand a busy library without providing parking. It does not make sense to take away the Probate Court parking -- elderly and disabled people must visit the Probate Court. The $12,500,000 plan does not make sense for Manchester. We deserve a world-class library with parking. Vote no.
Dave Smith October 06, 2012 at 02:16 AM
What is being touted as only .08 of an acre being lost is actually the most visible and important part of the park! It is not equivalent to acreage along Linden St or Myrtle St. In fact, some 7,000 sq. ft. of grass and walkways near the Civil War statue would be sacrificed. This is the part of the park that goes back to the mid-1800's or earlier, before the rest of the park was even conceived. Anyone who is going to vote should really look into what is being proposed and consider the consequences of constructing this large annex to the library and its effect on how the center of town will look. Building on this area is a desperation move and will leave the park emasculated for future generations. Our descendants will ask "What were they thinking?"
Ed Kloehn October 06, 2012 at 03:16 AM
This is a bad ,stop gap, plan for the library .Vote NO to vote yes for a state of the art library elsewhere ....and by the way you'll save the park too.
Jim Quaglia October 06, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Joel, you make many valid points! Your last point resonates with me as it should for all Manchester residents. Unfortunately it is not a secret that many municipalities allow structural assets such as libraries, schools, etc. to deteriorate so new ones can be built. Apparently our Town leadership could very well be included! Such irresponsibility should not be placed on the shoulders of us residents. Vote NO for the library expansion.
Jim Quaglia October 06, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Susan, Your comments regarding the parking situation are so true. Currently, the plan is to create more parking to the north side of Center St and along Trotter St. which would force our elderly and young children to cross Center St. which is very busy! I do not see this plan working well in inclement weather or during winter months. It is not safe and would be very uncomfortable for many of our residents. It also is a much longer walk than what should ever be necessary. So apparently our Town leadership will be adding more amesite to the north side of Center St, in order to comply with zoning regulations and placing our residents in an unsafe and at times very uncomfortable walk to get to the library. I urge all resident to VOTE- NO on Question One!
Jim Quaglia October 06, 2012 at 01:03 PM
Dave, Your points hit home and certainly clarify exactly what the library expansion will destroy. It is very sad that some would like to see the expansion progress and for what.... having nice new bathrooms? Your last sentence says it all.... What were they thinking! Vote No on Question One!
DebbieH October 06, 2012 at 04:09 PM
I guess I'm having some difficulty following the logic. If the library expansion passes, wouldn't an existing, historic building be preserved, updated and expanded (with park improvements, mind you)? A new library building would be at least double the cost, plus you would still need to update the current building at a significant cost in order to make it usable. We need to vote yes on this one! Most of the downtown businesses are actively supporting the library expansion because they're terrified its going to leave Main St.
Malcolm Barlow October 06, 2012 at 09:41 PM
Malcolm Barlow Businesses on Main Street are going to succeed or fail because they offer, or don't offer, what customers want. Their success has little to do with the library. I shop often at Manchester Hardware because it always has what I need. Pinewood Furniture is another example - good product and good service.The restaurants offer good food and service, or I won't go in them. A great library should be put where it can be great. And our Center Memorial Park should remain our green and sacred place in the heart of our City of Village Charm. Saving the Park will help those good businesses on Main Street.
Claudia Hurley October 06, 2012 at 11:07 PM
I could be wrong but didn't a letter submitted by some of the current Cheney family express that they'd vote against additional building expansion to the park. Also, isn't removing the asphalt from behind probate court and the library only to plunk in down on Linden Street kind of blowing a hole in the beautifying the park theory. I'm voting NO to Library expansion Claudia Hurley
Terry Parla October 06, 2012 at 11:19 PM
vote no on question 1. Terry Parla
Terry Parla October 06, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Center Memorial Park is the town green of Manchester. We can not afford to give up one inch of this park. This park is as important to Manchester as Central Park is to New Yorkers. Parking will always be a big problem at this site and will not be solved by asking people to cross Center St to come to the library. Also is the tearing down of the Youth Center building and the lights and crosswalks included in the 12.5 cost of this addition. This is a bad plan lets work for a good plan when times are better. For our children and grandchildrens sake vote no on question one and yes for question two for our schools.
Denise lheurex October 08, 2012 at 11:15 AM
Denise L'Heuruex I agree Malcolm and will vote NO. Also, the parking for the new addition is right next to the firehouse across Center Streeet which mant people do not know. Many people will stop coming to Main Street since it will be so congested at the top and not safe. There is a better way. Save the park for aour veterans and find a better solution.
Cindy Lea October 09, 2012 at 06:10 PM
This is not an issue about supporting the library or not. It's about putting a better plan on the table. This is too much money to spend when our schools are falling apart. The referendums will be coming to update the schools in the next few years. Fix our schools first and then address this issue. Do you really think any parent wants to cross busy Center Street with a child? I don't think so. Save the Park and VOTE NO.
Pam Brannick October 30, 2012 at 07:28 PM
If part of the reason for current construction on Broad Street is to bring people to the area, why not consider reusing some of the vacant space in the "Shaw's" strip? Parking would not be a problem.
Greg October 30, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Vote yes and help better meet the needs or our residents who make this such a busy resource for our town. While the park is a resource it is a little visited and used resource for the vast majority of Manchester residents. As a native of Manchester I have seen many changes in over 60 years and every change had its opponents and proponents and this is no different. End of the day what is best for the majority of town folks prevails. We will see on November 6th what the majority wants.

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