$1.5 million needed for library; Northboro may ask voters for funding.

Position:LOCAL NEWS
 
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Byline: Patricia J. James

NORTHBORO - While supporters of the Northboro Free Library expansion and renovation continue their work to raise funds, voters at the April town meeting could be asked to borrow up to $1.5 million for the project.

Town meeting voters in 2000 approved $5.6 million for the project, contingent on getting the state to pay part of the cost through a $2.2 million construction grant. Since then, however, construction costs have risen, bringing the latest project estimate to $7.7 million. Another cost estimate is expected this month, according to Library Director Jean M. Langley.

The original plan was to replace the library's 1975 addition and expand the building from 15,000 to 26,000 square feet, but that has been reduced to 25,000 square feet to cut costs. Some less expensive materials have also been chosen. Project supporters have said the expansion is needed because the town's population, the library's collection, and uses for the building have changed since the last addition was built.

The library project has received almost $600,000 through donations

and other sources, including $50,000 approved at town meeting from Community Preservation Act funds. Ms. Langley has applied for another $160,000 under the act, but the project still needs roughly $1.5 million by May, when officials plan to sign with a general contractor.

"If all goes well, we should be looking at groundbreaking in June or shortly thereafter," Ms. Langley said yesterday, adding that if the money is not raised by then, the state grant could be lost.

A fundraising committee has solicited private donations and has sent townwide mailings requesting funds. The group hopes an upcoming comedy night with three comedians, including an Algonquin Regional High School graduate, will also help.

Jon Lincoln, a 26-year-old Algonquin graduate whose father teaches science at Robert E. Melican Middle School, will perform during the benefit, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday at Guiseppe's Grille, 35 Solomon Pond Road. Mr. Lincoln has performed at the Comedy Connection, the New York Improv, and Catch A Rising Star and was recently featured in the Boston Comedy Festival and was a finalist in the Boston Comedy Riots.

The other two comedians are Paul Nardizzi, who has been on the Comedy Central cable channel and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," and won first place at the HBO Aspen Comedy Festival; and Boston comedian Dave Rattigan, who has performed in comedy clubs and on...

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