Library expansion hits snags

Groton’s public library, a staple of the town, as it appears in summer.
Groton’s public library, a staple of the town, as it appears in summer.
Photo by Linda Competillo

This past June, the Groton Public Library received a comprehensive summary from its architect, Julia Hafftka-Marshall, of the projected costs for the expansion portion that exceeded the budget by $285,000.

This led to extensive discussions that included the library’s director, Sara Knobel, library board president, Sheri Shurtleff, project manager, Jim Turner, expansion liaison for the GPL board, Carl Haynes, other members of the board and representatives from the Friends of GPL group.

Following a series of meetings, which also included the architect, an agreement was reached by all involved to recommend that the basement portion of the expansion project needed to be eliminated.

This decision will provide significant savings by eliminating the need for an elevator, stair access to the basement and other related modifications. An upside resulting from the eliminations is the creation of 400 square feet of additional space on the main floor, which will be used for meetings and other purposes.

Architect Hafftka-Marshall revised her projections, bringing the estimated cost for the expansion under budget, providing the library a cushion to bring it through the bidding process. The budget for the expansion relies on the state funds provided through Sen. Jim Seward and Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, totaling $700,000, as well as the Friends of GPL’s successful fundraising campaign that so far totals more than $165,000.

The interior renovation initially went up for bid earlier in the spring and unfortunately also came in over budget. A revised budget was made for this at $250,000, which will rely on the library’s current State Library Construction Grant and a second grant that it will apply for later this summer to fund this portion of the project.

There is great concern about the local bidding environment due to contractors being very busy, labor shortages and the potential increase of cost in materials with the proposed tariffs. Therefore, Hafftka-Marshall recommended to delay bidding the projects until December, with the hope that GPL would be bidding early in the season for next spring’s work and potentially receive favorable bids.

The GPL Board approved all these recommendations at its June meeting.

“While the need to delay was disappointing,” Knobel said, “the overall project is moving along steadily and will ultimately lead to a successful expansion of our library that serves so many in our Groton community.”

The need for the planned 2,000 square foot expansion was developed due to increased attendance at the many and varied program offerings just over the past three years. Our library is truly a hub of activity in our community, and attendance has escalated from 1,898 in 2015 to 3,119 in 2017, resulting in a 64% increase. At that rate, it is certainly no wonder that more space is needed.

Haynes, library director Sara Knobel, the GPL Board of Trustees and all the staff and volunteers connected to this fine institution are so grateful to everyone who has already made a gift or commitment. If you have not done so yet, do consider taking part in this historic effort to maximize the resources available to all of us through our local library, particularly in light of these recent minor setbacks.

Those wishing to contribute may do so by sending a check payable to Friends of the GPL, 112 E. Cortland St., Groton, NY 13073, through PayPal at or by calling the library at 607-898-5055.

Meanwhile, none of this has prevented the great things that happen at the GPL from continuing to happen! Visit, find them on Facebook or just stop in anytime. There is so much more to this library than books, though the selection of those is pretty amazing also!

Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, or 607-227-4922.

In brief:

Children’s Farmers Market

There is a free children’s farmers market sponsored by Groton Recreation and hosted by Food Bank of the Southern Tier and Tompkins County Child Nutrition Collaborative every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Aug. 21 at Groton Memorial Park.
Every child may come and take up to 10 pounds each of fresh produce absolutely free of charge! There are also free lunches available every weekday for any child who would like one. Groton residency is not required.

Groton’s art show

In a brand new location, the annual Groton Art Show will take place at the Groton American Legion, 307 Main St., during Groton Olde Home Days. The opening gala will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23. Show hours will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24.
Registration for the event will take place Wednesday, Aug. 21 and Thursday, Aug. 22 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Artists of all ages may submit one or two original entries, with maximum size of 140 feet around the outside frame of each piece. Works must be framed, wired and ready to hang.
Prizes donated by the First National Bank of Groton and the Groton Art Group will be awarded in each category of oil/acrylic, watercolor, drawing/pastel, senior citizen, student, best in show and people’s choice.
Winning entries will be displayed in the Groton office of the First National Bank of Groton during the month of September.
For more information or questions, contact Marion Davie at 607-279-6676 or email

Planned power outage

For those residing in the Village of Groton, there will be a planned power outage from 1 to 7 a.m. Sunday, July 28. This is necessary for the safety of the power crews as they perform some routine maintenance.
In the event of inclement weather, it will be rescheduled to the early morning hours on Sunday, Aug. 4.


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