Sunlight, space and knowledge: a look inside Belmont’s new library

Belmont voters will be asked to approve funding to construct a new library in November. The new building has a lot to offer our Town – from an expanded children’s and young adults room to quiet work/study rooms and expanded public meeting spaces. Check it out and then help make it happen by getting involved in the YES campaign!

Remember the old Underwood Pool? The decrepit bathrooms? That menacing cement dividing wall? The water dotted with Band-Aids and chunks of pool lining that had sloughed off?

Now picture the new Underwood Pool: its spacious, attractive and clean shower and changing rooms, the water slide, fun fountains and zero entrance kids area – the diving board and lap lanes. On a hot summer afternoon, the pool is packed with your neighbors, the air ringing with the laughter of children. It’s hard to even put into words how much better the new Underwood is compared to the old facility that limped along for decades before we, Belmont, finally pushed past the nay sayers and worked up the resolve to replace it. The new Underwood is a treasure.

Our library: a building at the end of its life

Now, take a look at our library: the sagging, blocked off stairs, the cramped stacks, low ceilings, failing electrical systems, creaking elevator (it runs on vacuum tubes!) and cramped children’s room and study carols. (If you can’t picture it, this handy video will help!)

Our existing Library is at the end of its useful life. Renovating it will cost essentially the same as a new facility.

As with the Underwood Pool, however, a better future is just around the corner. This November, Belmont voters are being asked to approve funding to rebuild the library, just as we rebuilt the Underwood Pool seven years ago.

As with the Underwood Pool, the current Library has served the Town well and reached the end of its useful life. Today, the building needs tens of millions of dollars in improvements to replace an aging roof, foundation, electrical systems, HVAC, etc. – work that will trigger millions more in legally mandated Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) improvements.

As always in town, there are nay sayers for the Library project, just as there were for the Underwood pool. (I wrote a while back about the Underwood that almost wasn’t.)

Transformative space for children, seniors and professionals

The fact is that a new facility is the best option – and a lot of very public thinking, discussion and analysis has gone into that conclusion, which you can review here. Long/short: for about the same cost to taxpayers, a new facility will give the Town the opportunity to re-invent our town’s most used public building for a new century. Years of thought, public discussion and planning have gone into what the new building should look like and how it should work.

The planned facility will transform this community: increasing the footprint of the library and bringing us a building filled with sunlight, space and knowledge, with a spacious children’s room, quiet work rooms, public spaces to relax, congregate and (of course) read, not to mention new community rooms and meeting spaces.

The new Underwood Pool gave us an oasis on hot summer days. The new Library will do much more: serving Belmont 365 days a year and providing an oasis not only on hot summer days, but cold winter nights: a resource to seniors, professionals and school kids alike.

Imagine yourself in the new library!

As you consider how to vote in a few weeks, take a look inside the planned library and try to imagine yourself spending an afternoon there: checking out books, taking your kids to the children’s room, working quietly in one of the study glass enclosed quiet rooms or listening to a lecture in one of the public meeting rooms.

I think you’ll agree with me: the new Library is well worth the investment!