Sunday, January 9, 2011

I want to share with those of you who are not subscribers a letter I submitted to the Norwich Bulletin. It pertains to an article on the voters' approval of a bond issue to stimulate economic development in the downtown Norwich business district. My comments speak to the optimism reflected in a positive vote, the role that economic factors played in keeping Otis Library part of the downtown ambiance, and the dismal effects of a possible third year of budget reductions. Without resorting to a jeremiad, I hope contributions like this will point out, constructively, the contradictions between pursuing an improved downtown while simultaneously underfunding an existing positive contributor to the city center, the Otis Library:

Your Dec. 30 article “Norwich keeps up fight for downtown” failed to mention Otis Library, a positive attraction built in part with economic development funds.

Norwich citizens expressed their belief in a renewed, economically healthy and attractive city center by supporting a substantial bond issue. It seems contradictory at this juncture to further reduce city support for the library, thus diminishing the library’s capacity to serve the public and provide a venue on Main Street where people feel safe and comfortable. A possible third year of reduced funding will mean — again — fewer hours, fewer resources and fewer reasons to visit the city’s center, not to mention opportunities for the bond to succeed, causing the city center to further deteriorate.

Extended library hours are not the sole prerequisite for a renascent downtown. I firmly believe that making the library more accessible is part of the solution, along with the successful implementation of the downtown bond, adequate recreational facilities and participation of law enforcement, to cite but three examples. I cannot envision how reducing the capacity of the library to serve the public will enhance or help maintain the stability of the community or promote a vibrant city center.

Otis Library