WESTPORT - The Westport Library was able to finance a much-needed renovation thanks to the efforts of its representatives in state government.
The library received $7,545 for the installation of a drainage system and restoration of foundation, front porch and steps.
"Our library, housed in an historical building, demands constant maintenance and improvements to permit continued service to our many patrons," said Jack Buttimer, president of the Westport Library Association Board of Trustees.
The matching-funds grant offsets the cost of a $15,000 project to prevent groundwater from seeping into the basement level of the historic building.
"We had enough money that we could do half of it," said Buttimer, "but we couldn't do it all."
The repairs commenced late last fall to dig a system of underground drainage that would divert groundwater away from the basement walls. A sunken concrete porch was replaced with wooden steps that are more akin to the style of the building. Some repairs were made to the foundation itself and work on it will be finalized later this year.
"We went way out on a limb hoping we could get a matching grant," said Buttimer. "We went ahead with the project knowing we may not get it. This grant means we don't have to dip further into the limited resources we have."
"It really helps the library extend into the next century," said Cynthia Schira, another Westport Library board member.
Sen. Elizabeth Little and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward announced the award to Westport Library officials on March 4 as one of several North Country libraries benefitting from a series of library construction grants. Buttimer said the two were instrumental in securing the funds.
"This grant to the Westport Library shows strong support from our elected leaders for the kind of work we're trying to do for the North County," he said.
"During tough economic times, more people turn to libraries for information and entertainment," said Little. "It's important our libraries are current, easy to use, energy efficient and above all, safe."
The grants are made available through a $14 million capital fund approved last year as part of the 2008-09 state budget. More than 40 percent of the approximately 1,000 public library buildings throughout New York are more than 60 years old.
"Libraries are invaluable public resources for our communities," said Sayward. "I am pleased that our local libraries will be able to update and repair their facilities so that they can better serve the families and children of the North Country."