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Lyme - About 50 residents gathered Thursday morning to celebrate the community's support of a project to renovate Town Hall and build a new library.
Wearing hard hats and bearing shovels, town and community representatives broke ground on the long-planned $5.08 million town campus renovations.
Bulldozers were already toiling on Thursday to move dirt at the site, which will hold a rebuilt library in a little more than a year. The new 6,800-square-foot library will feature a community room, the town's archives and additional space.
Nearby, a renovated 5,000-square-foot Town Hall will offer more office space, a new vault and an expanded meeting room in the main building. Both buildings will have updated technology and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
First Selectman Ralph Eno recognized several groups and individuals for helping to realize the project, including the Town Campus Center Building Committee, which steered the renovations and planning for four years.
He thanked architect Bruce Tuthill for designing buildings that will represent the town's landscape and character. He also recognized state Rep. Marilyn Giuliano, R-Old Saybrook, and former state senator Eileen Daily for their help in securing a Small Town Economic Assistance Program grant, as well as to the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut for another grant.
Individual donors have helped the town raise more than $1 million to offset the overall cost, he said. Residents approved $4.7 million for the project in 2012, contingent upon raising $1 million of that amount from private donations or grants.
"Your community spirit and dedication to a process is a testament to your vision and your love for your town," Eno said.
The Lyme Public Library Inc., the library's financial branch, offered additional money for the project when the project came in over bid at $5.08 million. This act prevented a delay or major changes to the project, he said.
Amid cheers, Dan Hagan, chairman of the building committee, Selectman Steven Mattson, also a committee member, Judith Lightfoot, president of the library's board of directors, and George Willauer, president of Lyme Public Library Inc., struck ground with shovels Thursday.
"It's been a long time coming, but we're very happy with all the groups that came together to make this a reality," Hagan said.