The New Jesse M. Smith Memorial Library
"Cornerstone of the Community"

27 October 2006

Vital Statistics

This being an election year, all sorts of numbers are being thrown around. Some are baloney. And some important numbers are -- conveniently -- omitted from the paid political ads and campaign propaganda.

Here are some real numbers, verifiable by public records available for all to see at Town Hall:

-- The new library is estimated to cost $8.8 million, NOT ``the conservative figure of $12.6 million'' claimed by one complaining candidate. And the $8.8 million includes not only the library building, but also furnishing, moving expenses, landscaping -- and roads, parking, and water, electrical and sewer service for the entire Stillwater Mill complex.

-- The Complaining Candidate criticizes the library project now -- but in May, he wanted to make money off it. He bid $250,000 to be Clerk of the Works. His campaign treasurer and housemate wanted some tax dollars, too, and she bid $240,000. The Building Committee did the proper and legal thing and awarded the contract to the lowest qualified bidder -- for $83,600 less than the complaining candidate's bid.

-- The cost of site remediation is pegged at $745,000, NOT the ``millions'' claimed by The Complaining Candidate. Where does he get his numbers? Certainly not from the records of the Building Committee, which, as noted, are public and available for all to see.

-- Voters approved a $5-million bond to help fund the project. The state will reimburse most of that, and millions more in grants and contributions have been received. And so the average cost to a taxpayer over 20 years is $15.47 a year -- less than a nickel a day! Considering that the library anchors a project that will turn a blighted part of the center of town into a great neighborhood, including a new senior center, we call that a bargain.

-- And that's what Senator Jack Reed (along with Lincoln Chafee and many other leaders) recognized when he said at the groundbreaking: ``Today, we’re celebrating what you’ve done – investing in your future while relying on the proud traditions of the past. This library will not be just a place for book collections. It will be the heart and soul of the community.''

-- Finally, not a number, but a suggestion. Please check out ace Clerk-of-the-Works Dan Joubert's weekly Site Reports, which read almost like an unfolding book about the progress we're making. The photos are cool, too! Visit the Smith Library Site Report Page:

19 October 2006

A True Milestone!

The first concrete was poured today. Not the foundation -- that's coming soon -- but concrete for a `plug' that will prevent the Clear River from flooding the site during high water through the old sluiceway (which will be filled after the concrete cures). The plug will be a two foot thick concrete wall inward of the arch. Mt. Hope Builders has been hired to do all concrete footings and foundations for the project. This will leave the arch opening exposed in the river wall for memories of times of yore. Soon all the local dams up stream will be lowering there dams sending water to mill pond. With this plug in place holding these waters back, filling of the sluiceway can occur. Anotehr piece of history will be buried, to prepare for the future...

16 October 2006

The Crusher Cometh

A new reverberation is being heard: the sound of the crushing of concrete and brick, along with pieces of granite. Actually, several of the onlookers who have been following the progress are surprised at how quiet the crushing operation is. This product will be used for the base of the new library and roadways. We are also saving granite slabs suitable for benches. The benches will be placed in landscaped areas along the river walk, to enjoy for many years to come. The river walkway will also be part of the Clock Tower renovations extending to the easterly end of the property line.

The architects have been providing the Library Committee with samples of material to be used on the project. This includes colors and design alternatives. These alternatives may also provide cost savings for the project. The contractor will build a mockup wall using the items selected by the committee to provide a visual representation. This method allows the committee to fully see the finishes for the building. One design change is to lighten up the exterior of the building and to use woods and a more natural color design. To be more congruous with the surrounding structures, the original design of a bowed roof line will instead be a pitched roof.

-- Dan Joubert

04 October 2006

Another mystery...

The day was young when the giant excavator uncovered a brick raceway deep in the bowels of the new library site. The machine backed off and workers with shovels opened the entrance. It was dark and damp inside. At least three old pipes, leftovers from now-gone mills, ran through the raceway.

``Water or steam,’’ clerk of the works Dan Joubert said of the largest one. The other two may have been for electrical wires. Further investigation would provide the answer.

The workers poked around in the brown earth, and the sound of metal-on-metal was heard. They had found an old tank – whether for water, or oil, or something else, was an issue to be resolved.

``Every time we put a bucket in the ground we come up with something else,’’ said Joubert.

The people who show up regularly to watch the diggers from behind the chain-link fence can see the evidence – growing mounds of old stone, granite, bricks, concrete, pipes, metal, and old timbers. The rocks, bricks and stone will be crushed and used for fill beneath the library. Most of the rest will be recycled. Those old timbers, for example – they’re southern yellow pine, perhaps 100 years old, and they will be shipped to Spain – yes, Spain – where they will be cut and sold for flooring.

The diggers went back to work. More buried mysteries remained on the site, where the first mill opened at least as far back as 1852.