A renovation project at the Fort Plain Free Library should be complete in time to welcome a growing number of guests that flow into the village from the Erie Canal, library Director Laura Flynn said.
Half of the project, estimated to cost about $260,000, is being funded with a $131,025 grant from the state Canal Corp., with the rest of the money coming from donations, Flynn said.
The work involves repairing the front porch on the home, built around 1836, installing a handicapped-accessible ramp, restoring two rooms and reconfiguring the entrance to make it more of a welcome center.
Flynn said the library’s proximity to the canal and the increasing visits from those seeking information on the area sparked the idea for the project.
“It’s less than a quarter-mile from the canal. What made us create an impromptu visitor center to begin with is we have seen a marked increase of traffic over the past few years from people coming off of the canal,” Flynn said.
Some guests are passing through on the canal and looking for a place to do laundry; others are stopping in to research their family history, Flynn said.
“People think of a library as a place to get information, and here we are right here in front of them anyway,” Flynn said.
Woodwork yet to be completed, including restoration of the entrance pillars, will recapture the historic flair of the old building, Flynn said.
“The idea is to make it look just like it did,” Flynn said.
The library project, a new grocery store and a refurbished village park are among several signs the village is springing back from the damaging flooding that hit it and other communities along the Mohawk River in 2006, village Mayor Guy Barton said.
“We’ve come a long ways,” Barton said.
The library is considered a cornerstone in the village, Barton said, and the renovation project itself will establish a modest but designated tourism center for travelers.
“It’s long overdue in our area. People coming into our community will have a beautiful place to stop and get ideas for what to visit in our area,” Barton said.
“It will draw a lot of attention being across from our new Haslett Park and rebuilt bandstand. Our community is being spruced up and more businesses are coming in all the time also,” Barton said.
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Categories: Schenectady County