BY MAT CLOUSER
BRANDON — A bustling and well-maintained public library is a cornerstone of many healthy communities, and Brandon is no different. The charming downtown library with its white bricks and black trim has been supporting the town in various critical ways in its current location since 1902, although its roots go back as far as 1827.
The library, which sees about 50,000 guests per year, had its most recent renovation in 1967. As such, the building is long overdue for upgrades to get it up to code compliance, including improvements to energy efficiency and accessibility and the removal of asbestos and other hazardous materials. A $2.2 million-dollar renovation budget was recently announced with plans to raise funds via grants and private donations.
An update to that project was announced on June 10 with the news that Brandon-based Naylor & Breen Builders had been selected as the construction manager, along with a revised construction timeline that now begins in mid-April of 2023.
Originally scheduled to begin in August or September of this year, supply chain issues and contractor availability were cited as the main issues for the postponed timeline. However, the delay will allow the library to have additional planning time, increase the competitiveness of their bidding process, and provide them a head start on collecting materials and equipment with longer lead times.
“It’s not just another great project,” said Naylor & Breen’s Tanner Romano, “it’s a great project in our hometown that many of our coworkers, friends, and families will enjoy and benefit from.”
The design, permitting, and approval process will be finalized in the immediate future, and the public bidding process is scheduled for later this summer.
The library is now tabled to be moved to its temporary location at the town hall next April, with asbestos removal and construction beginning in earnest in June 2023.
David Roberts, the library’s board chair, says the move will be a total team effort, but the library doesn’t anticipate many service disruptions during the move.
“We’re not sure yet if the move will happen over a couple of weekends or if we’ll close it altogether for a week,” he said. “But we’ve already received over a hundred volunteers to help us pack things up and move them to the temporary location.”
Roberts also expressed his excitement to be working with Naylor & Breen. “They were one of several companies that came to our open houses outlining the project,” he said. “In the end, we’re really happy because they’re a local company and one who has donated some of their services to us in the past.”
Library Director Molly Kennedy expects the project to be finished sometime in March 2024. “Our community will reap the benefits of an accessible library for generations to come,” she said, “as well as increased capacity for programming, community-supportive services, and greater efficiencies throughout our beloved, historic building.”