Attleboro Library Exterior

The Attleboro Public Library. The neoclassic “beaux arts” style building that opened 1907 might have new life as a City Hall.

The Attleboro Public Library: A neoclassic “beaux arts” style building that opened 1907 might have new life as a City Hall.

ATTLEBORO — Mayor Paul Heroux plans to seek a loan authorization from the city council to pay for exterior repairs and a new HVAC system for the public library.

“We plan to do this as soon as possible,” he said in an email to The Sun Chronicle on Friday.

The project which will fix a leaking roof, windows and brick and stonework, is expected to cost from $7 million to $8 million.

Enough long-term debt is coming off the books to allow the city to afford the expense, Heroux said.

The decision comes after the city’s building commission vetted other possibilities, its chairman Jack Jacobi told the city council in an update Thursday night.

He said the project as proposed is not the commission’s first choice, but it’s the only viable option.

The commission hoped to apply for state aid to pay for a more expensive renovation that would include the inside as well as the outside, but he said the wait time is too long. That job would cost about $16 million.

“Attractive as it might be to get state aid, we just can’t wait,” Jacobi said. “It’s foolish to let the building continue to deteriorate.”

Jacobi said the state aid list for library projects is closed, and even if it were open there are at least eight projects waiting for funding. That would put the city’s request years away from consideration while the condition of the library’s exterior gets worse.

In addition, the library’s air conditioning system is 26 years old and beyond repair. The city was forced to rent temporary chillers to keep the interior cool this summer, Jacobi said.

“This (project) will get the building back to where it needs to be to be functional,” he said.

Richard Conti, chairman of the council’s capital improvements committee, said he’ll back the project. “We’re running on borrowed time. Those windows have been leaking since I’ve been in Attleboro,” he said. “It’s not right to wait for state funding. This building needs to be preserved and it needs to be preserved now.”

George W. Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.

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