Ground broken at site of future North Dartmouth Library

Jul 18, 2018

It’s a project more than a decade in the making, and on July 17, it was time to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new North Dartmouth Library.

The ceremony, which was attended by town, state, and elected officials, marked the beginning of the construction phase of the new $10.5 million, 15,800 square-foot replacement of the Tucker Road branch library, funded with $5.3 million in state funds.

Located on Cross Road next to Potter Elementary School, construction is expected to begin with initial earth and foundation work, with completion within the next 12-13 months, although move-in could take some time thereafter.

Library Director Lynne Antunes has been waiting to break ground on this project for more than a decade. In 2004, the then-librarian made her case as to why the town needed to replace its small and inadequate branch library. With state funding provisionally awarded, economic issues ultimately doomed the project as the town was unable to fund its portion.

The project in its current incarnation was resurrected several years later after the Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District (SRPEDD) released a comprehensive traffic study of Dartmouth. In addition to changes that have since been implemented, it recommended realigning Tucker Road with Hathaway Road -- directly through the library building Antunes sought to replace.

“We probably do have to thank SRPEDD for the fact that we really got a high priority for this new construction,” Antunes said.

For the past few years, a committee has been working to develop the plan, and Town Meeting members approved the project last year. The town was also awarded the $5.3 million in state funding through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

With construction of the Dartmouth Police Department’s new headquarters underway, it’s the first time the town has undertaken two building projects at the same time since the DeMello and Potter Schools in the 1950s, Select Board Chairman Shawn McDonald noted in his remarks.

In attendance at the groundbreaking as former Town Administrator David Cressman, who made the trek from the North Shore to see the project he had helped steer take shape.

“It’s been almost a decade to get to this point, and it’s great to come back and celebrate that,” Cressman said.

He picked up a shovel and completed the ceremonial dirt throw alongside new town administrator Shawn MacInnes for his first groundbreaking since beginning the job on July 9.

“It’s very exciting, and it’s very nice to see the town investing in the future,” MacInnes said.

As part of the Tucker-Hathaway relocation project, the existing North Dartmouth Library on Tucker Road will be demolished.

The $5.6 million road relocation project is entirely funded through the state’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP), although Department of Public Works Director David Hickox said the department and the state are still working to figure out who will foot the bill for needed private land takings for the project, which is presently in the design phase.

“Our expectation will be to continue with engineering work and have a design ready for a public comment to be presented to the public soon,” Hickox said, adding that while there is no definitive timeline, he hopes to have those designs ready in the next few months.