Sutton voters approve library feasibility grant pursuit
BY JOSH FARNSWORTH
SUTTON – With a deadline looming that would freeze Sutton out of a state grant for nearly a decade, town voters gave the Board of Library Trustees permission to move forward.
Residents at Monday night’s Fall Town Meeting at the Simonian Center for Early Learning passed a pair of articles enabling the library to apply for a Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) grant with the aim of conducting a feasibility study for a new or renovated/expanded library.
Town meeting attendees voted 54-17 to pass article 12 that gave the board permission to move forward with writing and applying for the grant. The vote came in favor of the library despite the Finance and Warrant Advisory Committee’s unanimous recommendation to not pass the item, citing insufficient information and that the committee “could not determine the need, future potential cost or obligations to the town.”
Passage of article 13 defined using the grant, if awarded, as a resource specifically for a feasibility study to seek if renovating/ expanding the current library or building a new library made the most sense for Sutton.
Board of trustee member Cynthia Rielley assured residents that the library was not asking for money, only approval to seek a grant. If awarded, the $50,000 grant would be a matching grant. The local portion of the matching grant would be $25,000 or one-third of the total cost of the project.
Usage of the grant, however, would still need approval by the town before any money is spent. Monday night’s vote was step one in a lengthy process to avoid missing this round of grants, according to Rielley.
“The matching part of the grant does not have to come from the town,” she said. “We need to apply now, or else the next opportunity will be in 2023.”
Selectman Michael Chizy said while he favored the town getting a new library, he spoke against the article, fearing that more pressing infrastructure issues would be put off longer if the library ultimately reached the stage where a new project was started.
“I think a higher priority is the police department,” he said. “It is awful to have a police station in that condition. I think a new library would push a new police department and new Highway Department [facility] out [several more years]. I think we have to prioritize.”
Several residents spoke in favor of the article, stating the new library process could be stopped before town funds are spent. New resident Kimberly Vaillancourt said she comes to the library with her son at least once a week, and sees the library as one of the town’s top means of community outreach and activity.
“It sounds like there is ample opportunity to stop this at any point,” said resident Martin Hopkins. “To stop here would be premature.”
Rielley said she fully supported the town seeking a new police station, but said the need to expand the library was also pressing.
“We are hoping to make the library more than a repository for books,” said Rielley, also citing the various clubs and programs currently in place at the library. “We want to expand these things and make them accessible to the community.”
After the meeting, Rielley told The Millbury-Sutton Chronicle that the board was looking into what was best for town and all angles of funding would be explored if the project approached that step in the process, including accepting benefactor donations and other grants awarded to the library that could assist in paying for the local portion of the matching grant.
Town meeting attendees also approved using $10,500 from the Capital Stabilization Fund to upgrade Shaw Lane and design a parking lot adjacent to townowned Shaw Farm with approximately 60 parking spaces, according to Town Administrator Jim Smith.
Voters also approved an article to create a reserve account to fund future vacation and sick day liability for town employees, and the appropriation of $97,486 in unbudgeted Chapter 70 money and new growth revenues to several line items approved at this year’s Spring Town Meeting including veterans’ benefits, school department expenses, and additional appropriations for solar panels.