Haverhill Public Library Plans Spending $10 Million for Updating, Renovation and Expansion

Haverhill Public Library, 99 Main St., Haverhill. (WHAV News photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

The Haverhill Public Library is planning to spend $10 million for “modernization, renovation and expansion” as it takes ownership of its third floor from the city.

City Councilors are expected to sign off on an order tonight declaring the nearly 9,000-square-foot condo surplus. The action paves the way for the selling the condo for $1 to the Trustees of the Haverhill Public Library.

“We feel the scope of our investment and the benefits to the city and the people of Haverhill are significant contributions and that no further cash consideration is necessary to justify the sale of the condominium unit to the trustees of the library,” wrote Trustee Vice Chairman Richard J. Sheehan Jr. in the library’s bid.

Unlike most public libraries, the independent Trustees of the Haverhill Public Library have always owned the core building, while the city is obligated to maintain the structure and pay the staff. It is an arrangement engineered in 1873 by philanthropist Ezekiel James Madison Hale. Hale donated the land and half of the money necessary to build and furnish it.

An exception was made in 1997 when then-Mayor James A. Rurak agreed to the city’s $1.2 million purchase of the top floor condo after private donations fell short. An investment by the city was also a requirement of an $800,000 state grant, Trustee Deborah Y. Coletti previously told WHAV. She also noted the library helped pay for the city’s borrowing over the years.

The capital project enlarged the Main Street building from 30,500 to 44,000 square feet. As mayor, Rurak served as the non-voting chairman of the library trustees and now a is a voting member.

Sheehan added, “We are fortunate to have the resources to further invest in the library and to allow all of Haverhill, current and future generations, to enjoy the benefits of a beautiful, modernized library.” He explained the trustees are meeting with architects and planners and will present plans to the city in the near future.

The Haverhill City Council meets tonight at 7, remotely and in-person at the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, room 202, Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St., As a public service, 97.9 WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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