City approves financing, sets bid date for new library project

The campaign to construct a new building for Newton Public Library just took a big step forward. At its meeting on Nov. 22, the Newton City Commission received plans and specifications for the new library project, and it voted to set a date of Dec. 21 to begin accepting bids from construction contractors.

Bids are expected to go back to the commission for consideration and awarding at their Dec. 27 meeting.

“This is a great day for the library and for our community,” said Dr. Cari Cusick, library director. “This project has been in the works for more than a decade, and it’s exciting to see it take such a huge leap ahead.”

The new library will be built on the east end of Military Park, with a new parking lot on the northwest side of the building. Once the new library is ready to open, the existing building will be demolished.

The new building will have children’s, teen and adult areas on a single level, and will be fully accessible. New features will include a drive-through window, study rooms and meeting rooms, as well as updated seating areas, children’s and teen spaces. An indoor/outdoor seating area will connect the library to Military Park, with the iconic train remaining in the park.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $10.7 million, with funding provided by the City of Newton, Newton Public Library, and private donors. The original fundraising goal was set at $2.7 million, but was raised in response to rising project costs.

A volunteer Campaign Leadership Committee has been working for more than two years to raise funds for the project. To date, private donors have committed more than $3.2 million. Of that total, more than $1 million has been given by foundations, more than $320,000 by businesses and organizations, and almost $1.8 million by individuals. The City of North Newton has also pledged $100,000 to the project.

“We wouldn’t be at this point without all of the generous donors who have supported this campaign, and we are so grateful for them,” said Ann Adrian, campaign co-chair. “It’s amazing to see how this community – and donors and foundations outside of Newton – have stepped up to invest in the new library. I think it shows just how critical public libraries are to our communities, and how libraries positively impact so many people.”