Community Center with all of the features and benefits Lee needs ...

Quiet areas ...

to read and study.

A children's area

... that is colorful,spacious and right-sized.

Meeting Rooms ...

that are comfortable and available to the community, even after hours!

With space ...

to properly display the work of local artists

With room ...

that allows us to expand our collection to meet the changing needs of the community.

A place ...

that offers special programs just for teens!

Accessible ...

a place everyone can visit and enjoy.

Energy Efficient,

green and sustainable.

Thanks to the Lee Energy Committee for helping to Warm Up the Library, December 5, 2012

Frequently Asked Questions

There simply isn’t enough space in our current library to adequately serve the population of Lee: for every new book the library acquires, one has to be weeded out. Our ability to offer programs is hindered by the lack of space. Instead of a Children’s Room, we have a “Children’s Corner”. We are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act – the meeting room is in the basement and is only accessible by a steep staircase. The current library has already been expanded twice – because of its proximity to the bog, there's no room to build yet another addition.

The size of the proposed library community center was determined through the use of several public library planning guides, including the 2006 report prepared for Lee by library building consultant Patience Jackson (available at the Lee Library) and what is commonly called The Wisconsin Study. This 2009 study recommends that library planning should be done for current and future (20 years is recommended) needs. The existing Lee Public Library building is 3,200 square feet, far below all national guidelines. Components of modern libraries include collection space, reader seating space, public access computer stations, meeting room and program space, small group study areas, children and teen areas and staff work space. Based on these needs and the current size of the collection, the recommended size for a new facility is 12,114 square feet for a town with Lee’s characteristics.

Even at 8,810 sq. ft, the current floor plan of the new Lee Public Library Community Center includes community space that can be used even when the library itself is closed. Architectural standards for accessibility in new construction, contained in Title III ADA (Americans with Disability Act 1990) Accessibility Guidelines are also followed. Our current library building has been out of compliance for almost a quarter century!

We need to have the foresight to envision and meet Lee’s needs well beyond its 250th anniversary in 2016.

When the town voted to purchase the five-acre parcel adjacent to what is now known as Little River Park in 2006, Selectman Richard Wellington mentioned that it would be a nice place for a new library. In 2007, the Board of Selectmen formed the Town Center Committee to study town-owned lands’ suitability as sites for a Town Hall, a Library and other future town needs. Survey maps showed that the lot for the existing Town Hall and Library could not support an expansion of these facilities at the municipal lot. After carefully evaluating different sites, the committee recommended building a library community center on the bluff adjacent to Little River Park and this decision was reaffirmed by a subsequent Town Center Steering Committee. This location was included in Warrant Articles approved by the voters at the 2009 and 2010 Town Meetings. On April 15, 2013, the Select Board passed a motion stating the site of the library community center would be on the bluff overlooking the park.

The southern exposure and wooded landscape at the proposed location lends itself well to green building design possibilities. Yes, some trees will have to be cut down, but due to the nature of the soil, the trees are close to the end of their natural growth cycle.

Having the town recreational and library facilities grouped in a central, complimentary location enhances the level of these services to the entire community.

The Town adopted a "save some, raise some and borrow some" approach to paying for the Library Community Center in 2011. Since then, voters have approved depositing $100,000 a year into the Library/Community Center Capital Reserve Account. With the addition of $60,000 previously deposited into the Library Capital Reserve Account, the Town has saved $431,000 towards the project.

The original building plan, developed in 2009, was for a $3.85 million building. In 2013 and 2014, the Building Committee worked with the architect and construction firm to reduce the floor plan and the budget. The current floor plan of 8,810 sq. ft. is estimated at $2,516,000.

The Town has "saved some"; the Foundation has been and will continue to "raise some" -- so far, nearly $150,000 has been raised through donations and pledges ($50,000 of those pledges are contingent on bond passage); and by approving the authorization of a $1.3 million bond, the Town will "borrow some." The remaining funding gap will be closed through cost reductions as the Building Committee works to fine-tune the plans with the architect and construction firm, in-kind donations -- such as site-clearing, painting and carpentry work, moving as much existing furniture and shelving from the existing library into the new building and other cost-reduction measures.

The Foundation will continue to fund-raise throughout the construction phase and after the building is built.

The vote on Tuesday, March 10, if successful, will authorize the Select Board to take out a bond. Bond sales are held twice a year -- in July and January. There is no deadline, the authorization will not expire. It will be up to the Select Board when to take out the actual bond. Once the bond has been obtained, the Town will have three years to expend the funds.

NO! The Internet and other technologies have dramatically changed the way we communicate and live; new technology is bringing library resources to a whole new level. The modern library is much more than a warehouse for books -- it’s a community gathering place which offers opportunities for all the citizens of Lee to connect with their neighbors and the world.

While technology is growing steadily, traditional library services are still as popular as ever. Last year more than 50,000 items were circulated, and library usage increased in all areas, including wireless access and downloadable audio and e-books.

The current estimated rate for a 20-year bond for the June 2015 bond sale is 4%. If the $1.3 million bond passes and is procured in June, the highest tax impact will be in 2016; each year thereafter, the bond’s tax impact will be reduced.

Annual estimated increased taxes in 2016 on Lee property values:

Home Valuation Yearly Tax Impact
$200,000 -- $56.00
$300,000 -- $84.00
$400,000 -- $112.00
$500,000 -- $140.00

Yes, there will be added costs. The building will increase in size from 3,200 sq. ft. to 8,810 sq. ft. But the building team will pursue design options to construct an efficient, green and sustainable facility to keep the operating costs as low as possible. The Lee Library costs $9,157 to operate; the operating cost for the new building is estimated at $19,810, which is a lower cost per sq. ft than the current, outdated building.

The construction of a new library community center is just the first phase of an extensive, four-phase plan to address the town’s municipal buildings. Upon completion of all four phases of the plan, the Town Hall will relocate into the renovated historical library building; the current Town Hall, the Annex and Historical Society Buildings will be reconfigured into a municipal campus that will be ADA-compliant and energy-efficient.

Work on addressing the deficiencies of the current library building began in 2004. Starting in 2007, two Town Center Committees, composed of a combination of residents and representatives of town departments, studied all buildings and options within a half-mile radius of the existing Town Hall. This work resulted in the 2009 Town Center Report, as well as 2010 and 2011 Progress Reports, which include the phases for improving the Library, the Town Hall and office spaces needed by town departments. Preliminary drawings and a cost analysis are included in that report, which is available at the library and can be found here:

The trustees wish to thank the many volunteers who have contributed hundreds of hours over the past ten years.

The meeting room at the current library is located in the basement and not ADA-compliant. At most, it can accommodate 30. As a result, most of the library-sponsored programs are held off-site in the Public Safety Complex or the Grange.  Yes, there are other gathering places such as the Lee Church and the gymnasium and cafeteria at Mast Way School, but these spaces are not always compatible with programming needs and are already being regularly used. The various town commissions and committees as well as local community organizations such as the scouts -- all need spaces to meet that are comfortable, easy to access and suitable for the planned activity whether it’s a small group meeting, a reception for local artists, a community dinner, craft workshop or children’s program.  Currently, there are not enough spaces to meet the demand and scheduling conflicts frequently occur.

The modern library is a community gathering place which offers opportunities to connect with neighbors and the world. The desire for this connection has been well-demonstrated:  Over the past three years, adult attendance at library-sponsored program has increased by 123%. Despite its drawbacks, the library meeting room is in constant demand for meetings and programs – meetings frequently spill over into the library proper – to the one available table upstairs, which means people trying to study must retreat into the stacks to find a quiet spot and those working at the public computers are disturbed. 

But a community gathering place is not just about more meeting rooms – the new Library Community Center will also offer a comfortable place to sit and chat with a friend over a cup of coffee, browse through magazines, or have a friendly discussion with a neighbor about the headlines in the newspapers.  There is no such place available in the town of Lee – a central place where all its citizens can come together, learn together, share their ideas and experiences – a place that can and will turn our town into a community.

Working together, Lee can build it