The Durham Public Library Board of Trustees announced Friday that the Town has entered into a contract with a local resident to purchase a 3-acre site to be the new home of the Durham Public Library. The site is located at 49 Madbury Road, well within walking distance of the Oyster River Middle School and downtown Durham.
“This is an exciting development for the Town,” said Doug Bencks, the Board Chair. “We’ve been searching for years for an ideal site that is close to the schools and to the downtown business area, has plenty of parking, and is large enough for a library. This site meets all those criteria and more.”
The library is currently located in a leased store front property in the Mill Plaza, where it has been in operation since its split from the University of New Hampshire Library in 1997. “More than a decade ago, the town decided it needed its own library, separate from the University, to serve a broader array of community interests,” noted Todd Selig, the Town Administrator. “A good town library is an invaluable asset both to residents and businesses.”
The new site includes a private home, with an impressive brick façade, which will be integrated into the new library building. Money for the purchase comes from private donations already collected by the Board of Trustees over the past several years, including $100,000 from an anonymous donor who last year promised the gift, if a site could be found in this calendar year. The full cost for the property is $600,000, all of which will be paid for by the Board of Trustee’s building fund, at no cost to Durham taxpayers.
Within the next few weeks, the property will undergo a “due diligence” inspection, to insure there are no impediments to constructing a library on the land. As that work progresses, the Town Council will hold a public hearing on the acquisition.
The current owner is Dr. Arthur DiMambro, a retired physician and well known artist, who expressed enthusiasm that his property can be used for a library. He has promised to donate several of his paintings for display, once the new building is constructed.
The next steps, according to Bencks, are to commission a design for a new library and then begin an intensive fund-raising campaign to help pay for its construction.