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UPDATED: Manchester Business Leaders Throw Support Behind Library Expansion, School Repairs

The town's chamber of commerce endorsed funding for school repairs and an expanded downtown library Tuesday.

Updated, 3:10 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 10

The Downtown Manchester Special Services district has also announced its support of the $12.5 million Mary Cheney Library expansion, sending out a flyer advocating for funding. 

The flyer is attached to this story as a PDF. 

Original Story

The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce threw its support behind $4.9 million in school repairs and an additional $12.5 million expansion of the Mary Cheney Library Tuesday, both of which will appear on the ballot of a referendum on Election Day come November. 

“For Manchester to continue to be a community where people want to live and raise their families, and where businesses want to locate, Manchester must make the education of our children a top priority, just as earlier generations of town residents have done in the past," Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce President Sue O'Connor said in a statement Tuesday. "While we had hoped that a bonding plan for the town’s educational needs could have come after the SMARTR committee’s findings had been published, discussed, and approved, we respect the opinion of those who believe that this funding is urgently needed for critical repairs that cannot be responsibly delayed."

O'Connor said the $12.5 million Mary Cheney Library expansion could also be viewed as an educational issue, and noted that together the two referendum items should boast the Manchester economy, which in turn would boost tax revenue to help offset the costs to residents. 

“Having great schools but then failing to give our town’s students and knowledge-seeking residents convenient access to the reference resources they need is a contradiction,” O’Connor said. “Despite the hard work and dedication of our library staff and volunteers, the town’s needs have simply grown too great to be met by the existing facility.”

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Both items will appear on the ballot in Manchester on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. 

Lynn 860-819-1001 October 10, 2012 at 12:58 PM
No, I do not support the Library expansion. People are losing their homes, they don't have enough food to eat, Manchester is being taxed beyond everyone's means. No, I do not support the Library expansion.
Jim Quaglia October 10, 2012 at 01:37 PM
Ms. O'Connor make a very valid statement.... "For Manchester to continue to be a community where people want to live and raise their families, and where businesses want to locate, Manchester must make the education of our children a top priority, just as earlier generations of town residents have done in the past," The question for Ms. O'Conner to then answer would be what is really being done for our school buildings that are rapidly falling apart and for the classrooms that are in great need of some of the latest technology available such as smart boards in every room. These are the things are children and grandchildren really need. I wonder if the Chamber has been actively encouraging out Town leadership through the years to focus on "the top priority" in Manchester. How can the dollar amount for an outdated and intrusive library expansion plan be more than twice what we are directing toward our schools in the second referendum question. And why would anyone vote for a new building that will not have the necessary parking in close proximity to the library. The proposed parking will be to the north of Center St. which makes it a safety issue by having to cross such a busy road. Additionally, it is irresponible to ask our senior citizens, our young children, and our physically challenged residents to have to walk that distance in inclement weather and during the frigid winter months. Be responsible citizens! VOTE NO on referendum question 1.
Meredith Porretta-Knechel October 10, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Do people realize this will only cost the average taxpayer $32/year, and if they don't do this, they will close Mary Cheney, and build a new library, which will cost $20 million, and the downtown area will lose the 1000 people a day who visit the library, and then go on to visit and shop at the surrounding businesses?
leslie frey October 10, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Hogwash!!! If the Chamber really cared about the children of Manchester and bringing new poeple to town, they would have suggested that more money be allotted to improve our schools system! It is absured that when are schools are in need of over $20 million in repairs, we are only being asked to approve $4.9 million for the schools and a whopping $12.5 million (and you can be sure it will be closer to $20 million if it goes forward) for a library expansion. We all know technology is here to stay and the students I know use their I-Phones for everything! Look at Glastonbury which will be supplying every freshman and sophmore with their own IPad- talk about progressive!! And it will be a cost savings too! Manchester voters need to wake up and not be fooled by those behind this proposed library expansion. VOTE NO to Ref # 1 on Nov 6!!!!! If you don't understand what this is all about come to our "Save the Park" Informational meeting to be held at the Salavation Army on Mon Oct 29 from 6:30pm to 8:00pm.
leslie frey October 10, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Meredith, I'm afraid you are mistaken. Rest assured your taxes will increase more than $32 a year. They plan to demolish the former YS building for parking. I doubt that money was included in the $12.5 million. There is no reason Mary Cheney would have to close if this referendum is not paased. I don't know where you come up with 1,000 people leaving the library and shopping on Main St every day. If this were true, we would not have all the vacant shops on Main Street. I want Mary Cheney Library to be IMPROVED ON IT'S CURRENT FOOTPRINT. The $60,000 in consultant money should have been used to determine how the current site could be better utilized. The Howroyd room is cavernous-not a very good use of space... and then to ask for more space when we are having karate demonstrations, yoga classes, pizza parties, etc in our library...??? NO!!!!!!
Nutmegger October 10, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Thank you, Chamber, for standing up for what's right! I am convinced that those of us who support the library are the majority, and that it's just a very vocal minority that's opposed to it. I'm looking forward to seeing this pass. The Manchester Democrats and the Chamber have already supported this, and I expect that the Manchester GOP will as well. This plan has widespread support within the community, as it should. Don't be fooled by yard signs into thinking the movement against the library is the dominant viewpoint.
Denise LHeureux October 10, 2012 at 04:17 PM
The town cannot maintain the buildings it owns now, thus the $23 million for school repairs, (new roofs, repointing bricks, painting, carpets etc). There is no new parking to speak of execpt across the busy Center Street next to a fire house. that is a tradgedy waiting to happen (not one traffic study was done). We were promised alternatives 9 years ago but not one was given. The town owns current buildings that could be turned into a comminuty center with parking, fix the current librabry and bring it up to date for the Americans with Disabilities Act for a lot less than 12.5 million dollars. Why should we insult our veternans with blocking the Civil War and Vietnam monuments with a two story building that would ruin Center Memorial Park. There are better ways and it is time to think outside the box before we destroy something as wonderful as green space in downtown Manchester and congest the center so nobody will want to shop on Main Street.
Jerry O'Connor October 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM
The planned library expansion, and the planned funding for our schools, are far from perfect solutions. But in this case, I’m afraid the “perfect” is the enemy of the “good.” This isn’t an either/or argument. In a perfect world we’d want $20 to $30 million to build a new library (maybe on the old Parkade site which would then cost us another $20 million over the next two decades in potential lost tax revenue and maintenance costs) plus a quick $25 million to bring our schools up to snuff. Do any of you think the voters would approve that kind of debt and the corresponding tax increases on Election Day? Smart boards in every room and an I-Pad for every student sounds nice, but remember that Glastonbury citizens pay a much higher amount per capita in taxes than Manchester residents. We all know students from affluent families that “use their I-Phones for everything,” but let’s remember that half of our Town’s elementary school students can’t afford their own lunch; many have no computer or internet access in their homes and rely on public access to these nearly indispensable resources – as do many unemployed or underemployed adults in Town who need computer and internet access and skills to secure employment or get a better job that will let them support their families. (And pay more taxes to support our public institutions!) (continued)
Jerry O'Connor October 10, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Mistakes have been made, and feathers ruffled, by the way both of these issues have been handled. But a “NO” vote on Election Day won’t be punishing the BOE, the BOD or the library staff and expansion proponents. No, it will be punishing our youth and information-seeking adults who rely on the vital educational resources our schools and library provide. I’m on the Chamber’s Education Committee and I believe the Chamber has backed every Manchester school funding referendum since I joined in 1975. They also have business members that give significant funds and in-kind donations to area schools and cooperate in school-to-career activities that are often initiated by the Chamber. Significant additional funding will be needed over the next few years for our public education system, which now costs an amount equal to approximately 80% of our Town’s residential tax base. It is prudent, however, to wait for the SMARTR group’s recommendation so that residents will get a true look at the “big picture” and money is spent wisely. And when a thoughtful recommendation for another, larger referendum is made by the BOD I’ll wager that the Chamber will back that, as well.
leslie frey October 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Jerry, Wasn't it the Chamber that backed the apx $14 million fix to Highland Park School which ultimately resulted in the closing of Nathan Hale and an inability to make necessary repairs at other schools??? Wasn't it also the Chamber that supported changing the town motto of "City of Village Charm"? Opponents of the plan are not anti-library and we are not trying to punish anyone. The schools have computers for the students and yes, maybe they could use some more. If the town really cared for the disadvanatged they would not have closed Nathan Hale!!! I question how smart the SMARTR committee will be considering some of the past decisions our "leaders" have made. There should be a better plan!!!! That's the bottom line! Asking people to park across Center Street for this propsed library expansion is not only foolhardy but extremely dangerous setting the town up for future very costly and unnecessary lawsuits...
Jim Quaglia October 10, 2012 at 05:45 PM
So good to hear such inspiring words from someone who doesn't choose to make their identity known! I am not so sure how widespread the support is. It is not surprising that the Manchester Democrats are supporting this. They follow the lead of those in Washington who seem to feel there are money trees everywhere. We are in the midst of poor economic times and the Manchester Town Leadership is asking for us to approve construction of a new building when they have failed to maintain the ones we currently have. I makes no sense! There are too many other options available! I encourage everyone to understand the issue and what it will mean in the future. VOTE NO on referendum question 1.
Jerry O'Connor October 10, 2012 at 07:10 PM
A couple of points, Ms. Frey. First, though one event followed the other, the repairs to Highland Park School were not the cause of the closing of Nathan Hale School. Like you, I personally was disappointed in that decision and have gone on record in the past in that regard. But in this case the past, as Carl Sandburg used to say, “is a bucket of ashes.” Second, though it seems a bit OT, it was actually the Chamber of Commerce that came up with the slogan “The City of Village Charm” back in 1935 (a contest run by the Chamber and won by a Chamber member), and I know of no Chamber campaign to change it. Third, if non-disabled people in our Town are unable or unwilling to simply cross a street to get to an expanded library I doubt that they’ll be energetic enough to go to the polls on Election Day. Or to the mall. Or out to dinner. Or anywhere else, for that matter. I have no problem with folks opposing the library expansion because of cost or the changes it will make to the park, if those are their priorities. But many are slinging anything they can find – regardless of how unrelated or irrelevant – against the wall to try and convince people to disagree with a majority of our Town’s civic leaders.
Thomas Danahy October 10, 2012 at 07:24 PM
No,I am against this library expansion, the people cannot afford this! Please vote NO on referendum question #1 on November 6th Thank You Tom
Jim Quaglia October 10, 2012 at 08:31 PM
Those of us who are not in favor of the current library expansion plan are not out to punish anyone as some on this page would have you believe. Nor do I think we are slinging anything that might be unrelated to the issue as some comments have alluded to. What we are against is any intrusion into Center Memorial Park, utilizing an outdated plan that does not provide for the proper parking for such an entity. Apparently some of the proponents of the expansion are not taking into consideration our senior citizens and young children along with those resident who may be physically challenged when they speak about the parking plans. There are safety issues as well not to mention walking that distance in inclement weather and cold winter months.They chose to ignore those folks and focus on the non disabled residents. While I certainly understand that all have their own opinions, I encourage all of our residents to understand the plan and realize where our Town civic leaders are putting the lions share of our hard earned tax dollars. In these tough economic times, our tax dollars need to go to our schools where they will do the most good! Those civic leaders are the same people who have let our buildings deteriorate. Why should we build another one. There are other options available. We have enough debt! VOTE NO on referendum question 1.
Susan Quaglia October 10, 2012 at 08:36 PM
I am opposed to the expansion of the library because I believe the plan that is proposed is not an intelligent solution to our library problems. While I am in favor of updating and repair, I am against the intrusion into our park. Green space can't be replaced-buildings can. I am also very disappointed that the parking situation is not improved in this plan. I have considered this an issue for 30 years, and to do nothing except put a lot across Center St. is foolish. More often than not, I drive across town to Whiton Library, where parking is convenient. Which raises the question -where does Whiton figure in on the plan? Has anyone looked at using this resource to solve some of the space needs? Let's look for a better solution before we spend 12.5 million dollars .
Brian White October 10, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Jim, I think it's you that seem to be ignoring facts. There will still be parking close by to the library that will include handicapped spaces for the disabled and elderly; to ignore the realities of the plan to expound on exaggerated issues is both sad and insulting. I hope that having the new pdf with the included parking and demonstration of the minimal park intrusion will be enough to show undecided voters how skewed your view of this plan really is.
Nutmegger October 11, 2012 at 12:06 AM
The plan calls for additional parking. You can see the new parking spaces in the PDF linked in the article. Most of the new parking will be located diagonally across the street at the old YSB, and only a small number of square feet along the edges of the park will be taken up for parking. That parking will also benefit the park by bringing more people to use it, since right now, people who want to use the park typically have to either walk or jockey for one of the few street spots on the Main Street side. This tiny intrusion will actually increase use of the park, not decrease it.
Miriam Byroade October 11, 2012 at 12:49 AM
The mill rate increase for the library expansion is .27 mill, which, yes, does work out to about $32 a year for the average homeowner in Manchester, that number is directly from a report titled "Background on Bonded Debt and Projected Debt Service on Library Expansion Project, June 2012" and is available at Town Hall from the Budget and Research Office. go ask them for a copy of the report yourself. and yes, on average 1,000 people go into the Mary Cheney Building, do all of them go to businesses on Main Street, no, but some do. ask the owner of the bread store, she tells me that she knows when all the story times are at the library because lots of families go get bread/cookies right before and right after library story times. You are entilted to your own opinion, but not your own facts.
tina bourke October 11, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Who is trying to get back at the BOD or BOE? I support Main St. but I won’t be made to feel guilty if I also support other areas of town too. I spent my formative years on Main St. I spent years dreaming about walking those roads in and around Main. Even when I moved out of town, I always came back to Manchester to shop. I probably spent a total of 8 years of my childhood in Manchester growing up but I always call it my home town. The impression I get when people say they are life long Manchester residents as if this gives them more status? Newcomers need to feel as though this is their town too and they are welcome.
tina bourke October 11, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Hard, cold realities. If you grow up poor you are more vulnerable to pedophiles, rapists, drug dealers, etc., and less emotional support possibly especially if you come from a single parent home where that parent works for low wages and off hours? If you manage to make it out of that, you may have a life time of trauma, guilt, substance abuse, and perhaps a limited capacity to know who is good to trust? Do we just call them a lost cause and give up on them if they are “disruptive” in class? Remember there is a + correlation with the low grade performance and poverty. These kids are probably dealing with a higher level of stress? The working poor also have less access to preventative health care services because they cannot afford it. I read here the library is now being known for life time learning, for those who want to learn. I would change that to those encouraged to learn. If you are talking about resources for the poor Jerry, this is good!! I think what I read here are people want to talk about other solutions too is all. They are giving a voice to that demographic you just described that have no one else but perhaps us. This is why I like PATCH because I have never even heard the library will close if the vote is no. Is this true? This would upset me as even if the vote is no, I wouldn’t want Mary Cheney to close. Maybe it could become an adjunct library and we could convert Nathan Hale as a library and save that building? Just Saying……
leslie frey October 11, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Jerry, The closing of Nathan Hale certainly did have something to do with the spending of $14 million on Highland Park. The town leaders chose not to spend $1 million to fix the 90 yr old boilers. They knew those boliers were old 10, 20, 30 yrs ago. A "bucket if ashes"? I don't think so!!! Bring back our neighborhood school to the East Side where it belongs with the children of greatest need!! I don't wnat to see it as anything else. OT? not sure what you mean. There was discussion regarding changing the town slogan in a so-called effort to bring more business downtown and it is my understanding that the Chamber was in fact involved. Don't forget the elderly and infirm do vote-often by absenttee ballot. NO ONE should be asked to cross Center Street to get to the library!!! This plan is wrong for so many reasons. The fact is the plan's answer to the majority of parking spaces will be across Center Street. People will be taking their lives in their hands attempting to cross there-very poor planning!!! And sorry to say, Brian, but it is you who is ignoring the facts... VOTE NO REF. # 1 NOV. 6 - We have to find a better way!!!
leslie frey October 11, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Instead of tearing down the former YS building (and at what addtional cost?) why not move the CD's & DVD's there, show movies during the day and then our unfortuante citizens with no where else to go would have a place to go rather than bother patrons of the library and our Main Street patrons. Also utilize the currently vacant Cheney School building for all the other programming currently using space in the library- We need to think outside the box on this one and not just follow our "leaders".
Cindy Lea October 11, 2012 at 07:09 PM
The residents of Manchester can't afford this library expansion. Our schools are falling apart and they need to be updated. 12.5 Million? It will cost more than that when they start asking for change orders which always occurs on any construction project. Times are tough and a better plan should be brought to the table. Our Directors should visit Glastonbury's Welles Turner library. Construction was on its current footprint by expanding upward. More referendums will be coming in the next few years to repair our schools. Referendums will be coming for paving projects, etc. There are many people on fixed incomes who can't afford more taxes. It will cost more than $32/year, just wait and see. Center Memorial Park needs to be preserved. There isn't much green space left in this town and once they pave it over it's gone for good.
Denise lheurex October 17, 2012 at 04:32 PM
VOTE NO on the library expansion. There is a better way without risking life and limb crossing Center St. Ttraffic congestion will kill downtown because of the congestion will worsen. The parking is right next to a fire house. If it was a friend having a heart attack, burning house ETC, I would not want to put them, the firemen (our heroes) or library patrons at risk. I also was shocked beyond belief when yesterday I was told by an Illing High School history teacher that the 23 millionto fix the schools is just the tip of the iceberg. He stated that it cost 14 million for Highland Park and said to me “you do the math” for the rest of repairs. I talked to him at the Town of Manchester Democratic Election site on Main St. I stated that the Save the Park Committee was for repairing our schools but he just brushed that comment off like a piece of lint. He also stated that all books should be at the senior center since only the old people read them. He knocked the Manchester Historical Society as well. What an impression he made on me. While he praised West Minister Abbey and the feel of opening the door, I wonder if he ever consider that in 500 years the buildings he knocked the Historical Society trying to save for future generations might well be Manchester's West Minister Abbey. Did he not think of what the American Indians accomplished million of years ago and how many National and State Parks there are in their honor?
Denise lheurex October 17, 2012 at 04:39 PM
VOTE NO on the library expansion. There is a better way without risking life and limb crossing Center St. If anything, traffic congestion will kill downtown since there was no traffic study done and it does sit next the parking is right next to a fire house. If it was a friend having a heart attack, burning house or other emergency, I would not want to put them, the firemen (our heroes) or library patrons at risk. The center or town will be like the mall, a place to avoid. I was shocked beyond belief when yesterday I was told by an Illing High School history teacher that the 23 Million is just the tip of the iceberg to fix our schools. He stated that it cost 14 million for Highland Park and “you do the math” for the rest of repairs. I talked to him at the Town of Manchester Democratic Election site on Main St. I stated that the Save the Park Committee was for repairing our schools. He stated that all books should be at the senior center since the old people were the only ones that read them. He knocked the Manchester Historical Society as well. What an impression he made on me. While he praised West Minister Abbey and the feel of opening the door, I wonder if he ever consider that in 500 years the buildings he knocked the Historical Society for future generations might well be own West Minister Abbey. Did he not think of what the American Indians accomplished million of years ago and how many National and State Parks there are in their honor?

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