Weston Library looks to make major improvements

WESTON — A new addition to the Weston Public Library could provide a new-and-improved location for community gatherings in the near future.

On Oct. 17 the Historic District Commission approved an application for an addition to the Weston Public Library. The move marked the next step in a plan to improve one of the town buildings seen as the heart of the community.

SIGN UP here to get daily Westport News and alerts on breaking news.

“Weston is a place that’s about arts, it’s about learning and it’s about community,” said First Selectman Chris Spaulding. “This project will deliver all of that.”

The augmentation to the library will come in large part due to a gift by the Daniel E. Offutt III Charitable Trust. The organization is offering a gift of up to $5 million to build the addition.

Historic District Commission Chairman Paul Deysenroth said included with the new section of the library would be a maker-space — a collaborative work space.

“It’s a room that’s very flexible for its use,” Deysenroth said.

A crafts-room and digital technology room is also included. Deysenroth said his commission had three hearings focused on ensuring the addition will fit in with the present architecture.

“Our purview is only how it fits into the historic district,” he said, adding some of his commission’s suggestions to the project’s architect involved the height of the roof and materials used.

Deysenroth said balancing the design of a modern structure with an older era of a building is a key part of his commission’s role.

“It’s difficult to balance it,” he said. “The architecture of the 50s versus the architecture of this era is sometimes difficult to interpose one for the other.”

For Spaulding, the addition of Weston Library could be important to coincide with growing success of the building.

“Our library is booming and it’s growing,” Spaulding said. “People are going there.”

Adults and children alike are increasingly checking out materials from the library, he said. The location also provides a central location for community gathering. As the library is next to both the schools and senior center, Spaulding said the location is a nexus of the different generations in town.

“It’s a growing hub for the community,” he said. “It’s a community building, and provides community interaction.”

Weston Public Library Director Karen Tatarka echoed Spaulding’s sentiments.

“Weston is a very small town and there aren’t a lot of places to get together and gather,” she said. “We really work to fill that role through the library.”

The new addition would also continue to further the library’s mission to create more seating and gathering spaces for the community. Tatarka noted last week’s Historic District Commission meeting as an example of the community’s support for the project.

“It was really heart-warming to see the room overflowing with people in support of the project,” she said. “We’re really looking forward to moving with the next step.”

Spaulding said it’s still early in the process, but noted once design approvals and contracts are formalized residents will get a chance to voice their opinion in a town vote.

“Citizens will have a chance to say ‘we like this idea,’ or ‘we don’t,’” he said.