, Derry, New Hampshire


April 11, 2013

Reality check

Derry Town Administrator John Anderson included a very provocative proposal in his $37.1 million budget plan: Close East Derry’s beloved Taylor Library.

Why Anderson suggested closing the book on the library’s 135-year history remains a mystery. He’s not talking. He spurned residents’ attempts to get answers from him at a Town Council meeting last week.

Anderson also didn’t return reporters’ phone calls for comments or simply said he would speak at the budget hearing. Perhaps that response is understandable. The hearing is, indeed, the time and place to hash out a budget proposal. But his lack of response hasn’t made Anderson a very popular man about town.

While he’s holding his tongue, a lot of people aren’t.

Library director Linda Merrill said she was “blindsided” by Anderson’s suggestion her second home for 22 years be zero funded, rather than include the $176,612 library budget in the massive budget book councilors must wade through.

The library budget represents less than one-half of 1 percent of the proposed town budget. That’s one very tiny slice of the pie, barely a crumb of the crust.

More than half a dozen people spoke during the public comment section of the Town Council meeting last week, including Merrill. But perhaps it was 15-year-old Boy Scout Adam Burke who spoke most eloquently and for many who didn’t speak.

“Please don’t close my library,” the teen implored the councilors.

The 1,020-square-foot library on the hill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s 25 percent of the heart of East Derry village, rubbing shoulders with the post office, the Grange and the church.

It employs seven people, two full-time, five part-time. It generates traffic for nearby small businesses — a general store, an auto shop and a hair salon.

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