Town may save old North Dartmouth Library

Jul 23, 2019

The original, historic North Dartmouth Library may get another chance at life after all. 

The building, which is located behind the current Tucker Road library, is in danger of being demolished along with the current north branch library to make way for a realignment of Tucker Road. 

Last month, the Board of Library Trustees, which oversees the property, voted unanimously to take no action to save the building. Now the Select Board is stepping in to see what the town can do to prevent the building’s demise.

At the board’s July 22 meeting, Town Administrator Shawn MacInnes revealed the town’s development director has begun looking into options to reuse the building, as the Select Board is now getting involved. 

Member Frank Gracie said he had received calls from concerned residents reminiscent of when they — or their parents — used the building, and wanted to see it saved. He noted the town has saved historic buildings in the past, including the Akin House, Russells Mills Schoolhouse, and held on to the Gidley School for years. 

“We’re not advocating tons of cash here, just enough to stop it from disappearing,” Gracie said. 

He suggested examining the building, and seeking help from New Bedford Vocational Technical High School students to get the building sturdy and ready to move if needed. 

With many uncertainties, members agreed the exact condition of the building needs to be determined, either by an outside party or the town building inspector. Although the exact condition of the building is unclear, Director of Libraries Lynne Antunes had described it as having “fallen into disrepair.”  

Last month, after the Trustees vote, she said the building has not had a use for the building in years, and that there was no funding to move the building from its current location. 

With the Tucker Road property set to become a realigned Tucker Road, the town would also need to find a suitable, secure location to move the building to. 

The board brainstormed several ideas as far as potential sites to move it to and reuse ideas, from a nonprofit organization to moving the building to the park on Route 6. 

The board wants to hear more from the Board of Library Trustees to determine exactly why the Trustees voted to not move the building, before deciding on next steps. In the meantime, Director of Development Deborah Melino-Wender is researching possible ideas for what to do with the building