November 30, 2021

Groton library work begins

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Jim Alibrandi, left, and Matthew Sluzar of James and Son Construction work to prepare the foundation for a 2,000-squarefoot addition to the Groton Public Library.

GROTON — Work has begun on a 2,000square-foot addition to the Groton Public Library, more than a month after it was originally scheduled to begin.

“Construction started Tuesday,” Director Sara Knobel said Thursday. “They started outside with the site work for expansion. Today they are putting footers in.”

Construction was delayed due to the coronavirus causing businesses to shut down.

“Right now, it’s projected to be completed in December,” said Jim Turner, a liaison between the three construction crews working on the project and library officials. He said the finish date depends on the weather and what happens with the coronavirus.

The expansion is part of a two-phase project to reimagine the library and how it’s used.

The library, built in 1917, has been cramped for years, and the acquisition of new space was one of four goals outlined in a five-year plan drafted in 2014, Knobel said.

The library has gone far beyond the traditional mission of lending books and giving people a place to read. Until the coronavirus pandemic closed it, the library hosted a monthly dinner and cooking classes. It had teen movie nights and in 2018 started opening at 10 a.m. instead of its normal 2 p.m. to give kids a safe place to hang out. It has become a hub for the community, Knobel said.

Funding for both phases comes from grants and donations.

The $250,000 first phase reconfigured the existing space.

The library received a $125,000 state library construction grant. The grant required the library to match the funds, said board of trustees President Sheri Shurtleff.

The board did that using reserve funds. The second phase of the project is the 2,000-square-foot addition to the back of the library. The addition is being built on 6,000 square feet donated by former Lee Shurtleff, the former Tompkins County emergency response director and his family.

The one-story addition originally was to include a full basement, but that was scrapped after the project came in over budget during the bidding phase.

The library got $700,000 in state funds, sponsored by both Sen. James L. Seward (R-Mlford— and Assembly Member Barbara Lifton (D-Ithaca).

The Friends of the Groton Public Library also raised more than $150,000.

“It’s such a relief because we had everything packed up, so it’s a little light at the end of the tunnel,” Knobel said.