The voters in Manchester have spoken, and they do not want to spend $12.5 million to upgrade the Mary Cheney Library.
The proposal, which was the result of years of studies and focus groups, failed at the ballot box Tuesday in convincing fashion. Manchester voters rejected the proposal by a vote of 13,069 against and 9,538 in favor.
Rejection of the proposal leaves the future of Manchester's library system, which is one of the most popular in the state, in doubt. The Mary Cheney Library, the town's main library, was built in 1937 and expanded in 1961 and is currently not handicapped compliant and, many say, inadequate for its current needs.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, town leaders will propose to address the current shortcomings at the Mary Cheney Library, although Deputy Mayor Jay Moran said that it would be a priority to find a solution that Manchester residents can accept and afford.
"At times this has become a hot topic amongst the 'yes' and 'no advocates," Moran told Patch. "Now emotions need to be put aside and we need come up with another library plan. One that is ADA compliant, services the library needs of the modern area and one that is affordable to the taxpayer. I am confident that people of Manchester can come together and get this done."
While Mayor Leo V. Diana said that he thought that two referendum questions on the same ballot - there was also a $4.9 million question for school repairs, which passed - was too much for Manchester taxpayers to handle.
"It means a first rate town like Manchester is going to have a second rate library on Main Street for some time to come," Diana said. "We are going to have to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate this matter. It means that two financial questions on one ballot is too much. The vote has be made and we will respect the decision of the people."