Approval has arrived to start expansion of the Sherman Library.

The town's land-use boards gave their nod April 1 to a projected 12,368-square-foot facility at the intersection of routes 37/39 and Saw Mill Road.

Revised plans had been submitted to the boards in mid-January and, with Sherman Historic District approval in place, library Building Committee chairman Clay Cope had foreseen clear sailing ahead.

"We're very excited," Mr. Cope said Tuesday. "I joined the library board in 2001 and the expansion was on the table then. It will be good to see this come to fruition. It's good for the whole town."

The project is expected to cost $3 million.

The town has approved a $1 million bond, and a $1 million Library Construction Grant was awarded by the state although not yet received by the town. Smaller grants totaling $110,000 have been received and $1 million in pledges have been made by patrons.

Expansion construction could begin once funding is in place, Mr. Cope said.

A capital campaign to raise additional money to fully fund the project will kick off soon under the guidance of library Board of Trustees president Sharon Danosky.

Concerns had existed regarding the planned parking area -- whether it could accommodate 36 vehicles and whether stormwater runoff would be an issue.

Yet with a green technology solution arrived at by the library's civil engineer, Paul Szymanski, and the town's engineer, Joseph Zarecki, that has been resolved (see related story).

"I served on (the) planning and zoning (board) until this year, so I really appreciate their due diligence," Mr. Cope said. "This is a large municipal project and it will effect the town for many years."

Library director Millie Loeb had a vision of what the Sherman Library could be for the community when she came to her position in 1997. She was overjoyed Tuesday as she spoke of what the expansion would mean for the community.

"It's so exciting," Mrs. Loeb said. "So many people have worked really hard on this and we did it the right way. We came up with a fantastic plan that will provide Sherman with the library it needs. It's such a vital part of the community. It's a place where everyone of every age can come and they do."

The architectural firm of Tuthill and Wells has created the design for the expansion. Bruce Tuthill and Peter Wells have worked on more than 45 libraries in Connecticut and Massachusetts, among them the Gunn Memorial Library expansion in Washington.

"We preserved the character of the original library and the barn," said Mr. Tuthill.

One story of the addition visible to motorists as they pass by will feature clapboard siding. The original library's stone facade and the barn's red siding will remain, Mr. Tuthill said. The barn will sit on a stonewall facade, built against its foundation.

"It's going to mean better opportunities and services for the patrons," said Ms. Danosky. "It has been a long process, beginning in 1999 when we evaluated what was needed to meet the coming needs of the community."

The expanded library will include the main floor, lower level and refurbished barn. It will have improved areas for book collections, room to expand the children's program and an activity room, a quiet reading and study area, and a community meeting room. Space will be provided for young adult activities and there will be an expanded and redesigned staff area.

Safety and traffic issues, environmental concerns, keeping with the historic nature of the town, and answering the community's need for parking in the center of town have all been addressed, Ms. Danosky said.

"We found both year-round and weekend residents rely heavily on the library," she said. "We've had great support shown throughout the community for the expansion."

"We're creating a building we will be able to manage without additional resources," Ms. Danosky added. "No additionally staffing will be required. A self-check out system will be installed and the sightlines will allow the current staff of one full-time and five part-time employees to run the library."

The cost of electricity and heating will increase. However, the new construction will be state of the art, using building materials and lighting fixtures that are energy efficient and economical, she noted.