Vote to fund Deerfield’s Tilton Library project set for Tuesday

  • Deerfield residents Pat Ryan, Julie Cavacco, Erika Higgins Cross and Laurie Prim were at the intersection of Pleasant and North Main streets in South Deerfield on Thursday to remind passers-by of the Dec. 6 debt-exclusion vote for Tilton Library’s expansion project. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • TTilton Library at 75 North Main St. in South Deerfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer
Published: 12/4/2022 7:22:57 PM

DEERFIELD — Residents will head to the polls on Tuesday for a special election to decide whether to support a debt exclusion for Tilton Library’s proposed expansion project.

With Town Meeting approval already in hand, the last hurdle for Tilton Library is Tuesday’s vote. Polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Town Hall, 8 Conway St. Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Dec. 6 to be counted.

At October’s Special Town Meeting, two-thirds of voters authorized appropriating $12.3 million in total for the project — although the actual amount borrowed will most likely be in the $5.26 million to $6.26 million range. The library received a $4 million grant through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) in July that must be matched in early January for the town to retain it.

Library Director Candace Bradbury-Carlin said that if voters reject the debt exclusion, this grant opportunity may take another 10 years to come around again, if it ever does, and the library is “bursting at the seams” as it tries to service people of all ages.

“We want to serve people better, especially teens because they have no space,” Bradbury-Carlin said. “I just hope we get to have the library the town deserves.”

If undertaken, Tilton Library’s project — the first major renovation since the 1990s — would include energy efficiency upgrades, renovating and expanding existing rooms, and improving accessibility. A slideshow presenting the library’s plans can be viewed at

One of the additions Bradbury-Carlin has highlighted is a meeting room that could seat up to 80 people. The library has never had a dedicated meeting room before.

On top of the grant, the library aims to raise $2 million, town officials have indicated they may ask residents to vote on using $1 million in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding at a future date, and the building will secure $100,000 through LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) environmental certification. Additionally, the town has banded together with several others around the state and put out a request for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to support Tilton and other library projects. Bradbury-Carlin said no decision will be made until the Healey-Driscoll administration is sworn into office in January.

“After the holidays, we, meaning all of the libraries working on this and their towns … we’re going to keep pushing because there’s a lot of ARPA money left,” Bradbury-Carlin said, noting the Baker-Polito administration needed to spend its supplemental budget by the end of the year. “There’s a lot of need and I think the most urgent need was addressed first.”

The project’s effect on residents’ taxes could vary depending on the amount of money borrowed. At an October information session, Finance Committee Chair Julie Chalfant said the tax bill impact, based on the average single-family home value of $340,459, would increase by $143 per year if the low loan estimate is borrowed or $239 per year if the high loan estimate is borrowed. These values could change if the library expansion project’s price increases or depending on interest rate values.

If residents approve the debt exclusion, which needs a simple majority to pass, Bradbury-Carlin said the library will begin working with its architects and assemble a Building Committee as it prepares to break ground next October.

If voters reject the ballot measure, Bradbury-Carlin said Tilton Library will appeal to the MBLC for an extension to the early January grant expiration deadline. She added the MBLC is “not eager to give extensions” but Tilton would give it its best shot.

Another avenue would be to reach out to the community members who have pledged to donate to the library’s expansion project and see if those funds could instead be repurposed toward tackling improvements around the library without undertaking a full expansion.

No matter the result, Bradbury-Carlin thanked the residents of Deerfield for working with the library through this multi-year process.

“I just want to say thank you for the community for going along on this journey with us,” Bradbury-Carlin said. “If it comes to pass, I think people will be happy that it did.”

Chris Larabee can be reached at or 413-930-4081.


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