Framingham Town Meeting members voted overwhelmingly Wednesday night to approve funds for a new $8.6 million Christa Corrigan McAuliffe Branch Library.
The article required a two-thirds majority in order to pass. No one spoke in opposition of the article, which passed by a vote of 149 to 1
The town appropriated $710,000 for land in 2011. The library foundation has pledged $600,000 to the project. According to Library Board Treasurer Sam Klaidman, $400,000 has already been raised.
The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners will reimburse Framingham for 53 percent of the cost. The town will be responsible for a $3.8 million capital expense bond to pay for the rest of the cost.
This was not the first time a request for a new library had come before Town Meeting. In 2005, Town Meeting members shot down a proposal to replace the McAuliffe Library.
Capital Budget Committee Chairman William G. McCarthy explained why his board unanimously endorsed this article.
"Some of us on the committee voted differently a few years ago," McCarthy said.
McCarty cited the state's grant and Library Director Mark Contois's previous experience with similar projects.
"We need to do whatever it takes to improve the image of Framingham," McCarthy said.
The building opened in 1963, and was later renamed in honor of astronaut and Framingham native Crista McAuliffe, who perished in the 1986 Challenger disaster.
According to the Framingham Library Foundation website, the McAuliffe branch has 11,250 visitors a month. The McAuliffe building needs $422,000 in repairs and enhancements to complete HVAC upgrades and become ADA compliant, the foundation says.
Currently, there are only four internet-connected computers available for the public at the branch library, and no private study space.
Klaidman praised the design of the new building – 17,000 square feet to be built on Water Street in Nobscot – as a "21st Century library," with more computers, a 50-seat multipurpose room separate sections for children and young adults -- aspects the current library lacks.
"It's designed to be functional, flexible, attractive, easy to maintain and affordable," Klaidman said.
Klaidman said the new building could open by Christmas 2015.
John Swinconeck can be reached at email@example.com.