December 12, 2018  |  

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Highest and Best Use

Published May 17, 2017

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Recently controversy and confusion has occurred concerning the need for an expanded and accessible library. Three years ago, with only one location deemed possible, a commission was charged with developing the North Quarter Park site. As the committee’s hard work has manifested in a definite plan, residents have questions and concerns about its cost and scale.

Back in 2009, many Chester Library survey respondents expressed a strong preference for expanding our current library. Cited were love of the historic building and proximity to the center. These thoughts came to mind in January as Peter and I began the process of putting our Main Street building on the market and a friend suggested that it would make a fabulous library. His idea struck us as well worth consideration.

For most of its 200-year history, the building has served the public. Built in 1809, “The Stone Store” was the go-to place in town. It has housed a tavern, the first library, a kindergarten, and the Post Office in the 1950s and ’60s. Today the Chester Package Store and C&G Apparel occupy the ground floor, and upstairs C&G Posters & Prints has hosted poetry readings, book signings, concerts, and happy hours on Chester Nights. If the town can appreciate and embrace this opportunity to utilize an iconic building, it would continue to serve the public. In the words of our realtor, it could accomplish its “highest and best use.”

Researching the state’s Library Planning Guide and the Grant Program Guide has convinced me of its feasibility, practicality, and economic viability, and that the project could be looked upon most favorably for state funding. Our doors are always open during business hours, so I encourage your readers to come see our vision for a convenient, welcoming, comfortable, and unique Chester Public Library.

Janet Cummings Good

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