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Group Has Ambitious Plans For Harrison's Libraries

The Harrison Public Library Foundation is raising money with the hopes of making substantial additions to both of the town's public libraries.

A new look could be on the horizon for both of Harrison's libraries, as a group of locals are moving forward with plans for major renovations over the next few years.

The Harrison Public Library Foundation (HPLF) was formed in November 2010 with the goal of making improvements within Harrison's library system. The non-profit group hopes to use community-based fundraising to improve each library, starting with the downtown location.

That fundraising will be aided by the Richard E. Halperin Memorial Foundation, which has pledged to match all donations up to $1 million. 

“The generous pledge from the Richard E. Halperin Memorial Foundation is a dynamic and encouraging first step, combined with the support from the town and community,” said HPLF President Stephen Hicks.

Rich Halperin was a lifetime Harrison resident who passed away three years ago. Major renovations haven't taken place at either library since the mid '80s and a library that serves as a town centerpiece was one of Halperin's dreams.

"It was really Richard's vision," said Nancy Rieger, an HPLF trustee. "I guess he felt like it really was time—we had to do something."

A detailed plan will be worked out once an architect is selected for the project later this summer. The trustees hope to unveil their plans for the downtown library on October 2. After that, they will seek out donations.

"We don't think it's going to be just a face-lift, where it's going to be carpets and drapes, we think it's going to be a lot more than that," she said. "It's going to be really substantial." 

The seven-member HPLF board is made up entirely of volunteers and brings a variety of talents to the committee. Trustees Hicks, Rieger, Nicole Decker, Ross Halperin (Rich's son), Pam Stockton, June Ann Swartz and Raymond Villani offer a variety of backgrounds including marketing, finance and law.

The HPLF is also working with the library board of trustees to create a plan that fits the needs of the community.

"We have a lot ahead of us, but it sounds like the town is in our court," said Rieger. "I don't think we'll really have any resistance, it's an exciting thing."

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