NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The Save Our Library Fundraising Campaign has announced that a total of $460,000 has been raised in the seven weeks since the launch of its effort to raise $2 million to move Narragansett’s library into the former Belmont building.
Save Our Library Campaign co-chairman Jim Bennett said Monday that the group’s fundraising is ahead of schedule, and that $260,000 has been donated to meet the $500,000 Murray Family Foundation Challenge Grant, which kicked off on Sept. 26 at a private reception.
On a dollar-for-dollar basis, the grant will match pledges to the Save Our Library Fundraising Campaign up to $500,000.
“The Narragansett public library is a treasured community institution where people of all ages and walks of life come together to read, learn and explore,” Terrence Murray, of the Murray Family Charitable Foundation and honorary chairperson of the Save Our Library Fundraising Campaign, said. “That is why our family is proud to make this matching grant to endure that Narragansett has the modern new library space that our community needs and deserves.”
Bennett also said that Narragansett Preservation and Improvement Association President and Treasurer Bernard Buonanno is donating $200,000 to the Save Our Library Campaign.
The donation “is not part of the match but a very welcome donation towards the total $2 million fundraising effort,” Bennett said.
“This fundraising effort is well under way and acknowledges the community support for our modern new library,” Nancy DeNuccio, president of the Love Your Library Coalition, said. “It is great to be in this position.”
Of the $2 million fundraising goal, $1.2 million of the capital campaign will be designated for construction and renovations, and $800,000 will create an endowment for future operation of the library, according to the foundation.
Suzanne and Terry Murray created the Providence-based nonprofit Murray Foundation to honor Rhode Island people and institutions. Terry Murray had a long career at Fleet Financial Group.
Town voters in 2016 approved up to $5.8 million in borrowing for the purposes of improving town library facilities, and the town bought the Belmont building in March 2018 for $2.8 million, but three of five council members voted in January to sell the building. It is still owned by the town and has not been listed for sale.
An effort to sell the building in September to Hartford developer Carlos Mouta fell through when Mouta backed out of the sale. The building at the Pier also became the center of a lawsuit against the council filed by library project supporters. The suit is still pending, and a Superior Court judge has halted any sale, for now.
The Town Council has not publicly acknowledged the grassroots fundraising effort or the pledge by the Murray Family Charitable Foundation.
The Save Our Library Campaign is widening its fundraising net.
“We are still reaching out to major gift prospects but now invite the Save Our Library community supporters to join the challenge,” fundraising coordinator Daniel Barry of DRB & Associates said. He said Murray Family Foundation Challenge Grant pledge forms are available at the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.