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Something wonderful is happening in Lyme. Workers are nearing completion on a municipal project that both honors the past and prepares for the future. Taxpayers were willing to reach deep into their pockets to make it happen and the results should serve the town well for many years.
In May 2012, voters approved $4.7 million to renovate and expand town hall and build a new library. That's a big investment for a town of about 2,400. It has added about $4 million to an operating budget that would normally sit just north of $8 million, said First Selectman Ralph Eno.
In return the town is watching the restoration of a former Baptist Church, which has served as Lyme Town Hall since the early 1930s. An addition will serve as town offices. Meanwhile, the former church, rebuilt in 1862 to replace an earlier version, will continue to serve a municipal function while returning to its earlier design.
Partitions installed for offices will be removed to recapture the original large meeting space. Artisans are restoring the tin ceiling. More functionally, utilities are being brought up to date.
As exciting was the decision of townspeople to invest in the new library as part of the same complex, replacing the building at 482 Hamburg Road that has served as the town's library since 1971.
Both projects are expected to be completed this fall.
Libraries face challenges as information once only available by doing research at these institutions can now be found on the Internet with a few key strokes. Yet the best libraries are reinventing themselves, offering computer services to those not digitally connected, providing meeting places for community gatherings, offering access to movies and music, and, yes, moving to e-books. Lyme residents recognize a good library is still a symbol of civic pride.
With $1.6 million raised in private donations to offset construction costs, the impact on taxes will begin to markedly drop, said Mr. Eno.
Lyme should be proud of this investment.