Planning Board approves library expansion

The Lewisboro Library’s on-site expansion, which has been in and out of the development stage for more than a decade, was finally approved for special use and wetland activity permits by the Planning Board at its meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

The board voted 3-0 to approve the permits (board member Ron Tetelman was absent).

These plans show the proposed expansion at the Lewisboro Library.

The humble expansion will take the library from a 5,400-square-foot facility to 7,100 feet.

The expansion will focus on three additions — a children’s library, an expanded adult area and an additional space for a conference room and book shelving. The plan accounts for a few needs, including the growing use of e-books, the need for a separate children’s library and a refurbishing of the building inside and out, Donald MacDonald, an architect on the project, said this past fall.

Town Supervisor Peter Parsons attended Tuesday’s Planning Board meeting to see the conclusion of the process that he has long been a part of.

“I started working on the library expansion in the last millennium,” he said.

The road has been a long one for the library, Mr. Parsons said. Everything from technological innovations to sensitive neighbors has kept the library expansion in the planning phases all these years.

“There was considerable opposition to expanding the library as much as we wanted to,” he said.

As a former president of the library board, Mr. Parsons is pleased to see the library finally moving to the next step of its long overdue expansion, although there is something he finds lacking in the new plan.

“The huge thing the library has given up is that it wanted a substantial auditorium as part of the library [expansion],” he said. “In many libraries in the region you will find a substantial auditorium space.”

The library went through a number of proposed plans, including a two-story structure and a completely new building. Both proposals eventually had to be scaled down for a more modest facility. E-books, inter-library loan services and the digitization of reference sections have all been contributing factors in reducing the need for space in the current expansion’s design.

The project will cost about $2.7 million and groundbreaking is planned for late spring or early summer of 2013. The plan still needs to receive expected approvals from the Westchester County Health Department and the Department of Environmental Protection.

“Obviously I am very pleased to see the library making progress, and I hope to visit the new building by the new year,” Mr. Parsons said.

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