In response to rapid residential growth and escalating demands for state-of-the-art services, Victor Farmington Library leaders have unveiled plans for a new 24,000-square-foot facility at 160 School St. in the village of Victor.
The proposed project, slated for completion in 2024, will carry an estimated cost of $16.6 million and a projected tax rate of $.82 per $1,000 of assessed value. The current rate is $.27 per $1,000 valuation.
Voters will weigh in on Tuesday, May 17, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Victor Primary School Gymnasium to determine whether the project moves forward. On the ballot alongside the new library and its annual operating budget will be the Victor School District budget and School Board elections.
Meanwhile, residents will have a chance to ask library-related questions and give input at information sessions on Tuesday, March 15, at 6 p.m. at Farmington Town Hall, and on Wednesday, March 30, at 7 p.m. at Victor Town Hall.
The plan offers an upgrade some say is long overdue. The library’s existing 9,000-square-foot facility at 15 W. Main St. was designed in 1996 to serve up to 15,000 people. Due to a three decades-long population surge in Victor and Farmington, some 25,000 residents now depend on the library for their education, research, casual reading, programs, and internet needs, says Library Director Tim Niver.
A projected $14.1 million of the expansion cost would be financed through loans issued by a local bank, over the next 20 years. The proposal reflects an estimated library tax of $.82 per $1,000 of assessed value on properties in the Farmington and Victor communities. For the average home, assessed at $300,000, the tax bill to support the new library would be less than $246 annually, or $20.50 a month.
Proponents say the monthly investment to fund the new library compares favorably to Netflix ($16), Audible ($15), a monthly hardcover purchase ($25), or a recurring dinner out for a family of four ($80-$100).
Library Board President James R. Myers said he’s grateful for the number of donors who have already stepped up, allowing library leaders to put a reduced number in front of the taxpayers.
“The Victor Farmington Library Board of Trustees have monitored expenses associated with the proposed library at every step in the process,” he said. “We’ve reviewed each cost line by line, eliminating nice-to-have features and swapping out construction materials. As a result, we’ve been able to cut nearly $700,000 from the total cost, while still proposing an effective and efficient library.”
Of the 42 libraries in the Pioneer Library System, the Victor Farmington Library ranks annually either first or second in circulations and door counts, according to victorfarmingtonlibrary.org. In 2019, more than 191,000 items were borrowed and nearly 121,000 people visited the library in person. A typical weekday saw 400 – 500 people come through the doors, while small meeting rooms and tables seated more than 4,000 individuals for non-library functions.
“This library is a very active, vibrant destination that is used for more than just borrowing books,” said VFL Director Tim Niver.
The search for solutions began formally in 2017, with a study of the library’s space needs completed in 2018. A 2019 community-wide survey revealed that 82 percent of responders believed a larger library was needed.
Options for expanding the library upward were explored, but the addition of a second floor to the existing library was ultimately ruled out when architects said the foundation couldn’t support the added load, and parking would be insufficient to meet the increased foot traffic. An expanded library would require parking for at least 100 vehicles, and the current footprint can accommodate only 50.
Would building a second branch in Farmington offer a solution? VFL leaders say no, because the cost of constructing another facility, along with doubling operational and material costs, would be much more expensive than operating just one building.
Since 2017, twelve new locations in the village of Victor have been considered. All except 160 School St., not far from VFL’s current location, were eliminated due to cost or other criteria.
“There’s so much more to a library than just books,” said Niver. “It’s a learning center, a gathering place for friends to play games, a place where you can hear a concert, practice tai chi, see local artwork, use public computers for free, and the list goes on. The library is like an iPhone, but better.”
Library leaders say the new facility would enhance the quality of life for current residents and help position Farmington and Victor for continued commercial and residential growth.
Community members say ample parking, a separate children’s area, a larger community room for bigger programs and events, a drive-up book drop, room for more books and movies, and a new coffee shop are among the features they look forward to most. Incorporating Universal Design principles and enhanced ADA compliance will ensure equal access for all.
VFL Communications Committee Chair Mitch Donovan said he hopes a new facility will give Victor and Farmington residents the features already offered at neighboring libraries.
“The Victor Farmington Library serves a population that has grown exponentially in the last 25 years and is projecting continued growth over the next 10 years, especially in Farmington,” said Donovan. “Yet we are stuck in a building that was considered by some to be too small when it was built 25 years ago. How many families stay in their starter home as their family matures?
“I believe the communities of Victor and Farmington are ready for a modern, state of the art library,” he said. “The proposed library will offer space for outdoor events, a reading garden, a drive-up book-drop and electric vehicle charging stations, some of which are already available in neighboring libraries. Let’s keep our residents right here in their ‘home’ library.”
Residents can find updates with the latest numbers and insights, along with a comprehensive list of FAQs and answers, posted at victorfarmingtonlibrary.org/new. A YouTube video describing the proposed expansion can also be viewed at Proposed library FAQs.
Community members are invited to ask questions and give input at information sessions on Tuesday, March 15, 6 p.m. at Farmington Town Hall, and on Tuesday, March 30, 7 p.m. at Victor Town Hall. The meetings are in person, but those wishing to participate via Zoom should register online at victorfarmingtonlibrary.org/event-calendar.
On Tuesday, May 17, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. voters will determine whether the new 24,000-square-foot facility moves ahead. If approved, the 160 School St. property would be purchased in mid-2022 and current tenants relocated.
Demolition could begin in early 2023, and construction would likely take at least a year, with a grand opening targeted for the second quarter of 2024.
“Throughout this process the library board has gathered input from residents”, said Myers. “The majority of the people we’ve spoken with have expressed enthusiasm. However, if the larger library is voted down, our option to purchase the property at 160 School St. will expire, and due to the time and money already invested in considering a larger library, the library will remain in its current location for the foreseeable future.”
WHAT: Library vote
WHEN: Tues., May 17th, 6 am to 9 pm
WHERE: Victor Early Childhood School Boardroom
INFO SESSIONS: Wed., May 4th at 7 pm at Victor Farmington Library. No registration is required to attend in person. To participate using ZOOM, please register.
$16.6M — Projected cost of expansion
$14.1M — Amount to be financed over the next 20 years
$.82 — Proposed tax rate per $1,000 assessed value
$246 — Annual tax for a home assessed at $300,000
$20.50 — Monthly tax for a home assessed at $300,000
191,000 — Number of items loaned by VFL in 2019
121,000 — People who physically visited the library in 2019
400 to 500 — Daily visitors in 2019
4,000 — Small meeting room and table seats filled through non-library activities in 2019
- Room for 25 percent more books, movies, and materials
- Coffee shop and café
- Comfortable, quiet spaces to read
- Outdoor reading garden
- Separate children’s area
- Drive-Up book drop
- Teaching kitchen
- Green/sustainable features
- Outdoor event space
- Permanent used book sale room
- Community room that seats more than 100
- Room for students, tutors, and meetings
- Ample parking