201112ind BelmontFile

An anonymous donor has contributed $500,000 toward efforts to build a new library in the former Belmont IGA/ building in Narragansett, a local fundraising group announced last week.

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — An anonymous donor has contributed $500,000 toward efforts to build a new library in the former Belmont IGA/ building in Narragansett, a local fundraising group announced last week.

The donation came just days after the Save Our Library Fundraising Campaign passed the $1 million fundraising mark, it said.

“The generosity shown by the people of Narragansett and library supporters from all across Rhode Island has been inspiring,” Save Our Library Fundraising Campaign co-chairs Jim and J.J. Bennett said. “We are truly grateful for this anonymous donation, and for all of the funding our neighbors have been able to provide.”

The Save Our Library Fundraising Campaign was launched last year by the Friends of the Narragansett Library. Of the campaign’s $2 million goal, more than $1.5 million has been raised, the group said.

The details of the campaign specify that $1.2 million are restricted funds earmarked specifically to support construction and renovation of the former Belmont Market building.

The remaining $800,000 will be used to create an endowment to cover the library’s operational costs. Per the anonymous donor’s wishes, the latest $500,000 donation will be earmarked for the Library Endowment Fund, according to Save Our Library.

Library supporters cheered word of the large donation.

“The Friends of the Narragansett Library are grateful for the very generous $500,000 gift from the anonymous donor,” Friends of the Narragansett Library president Mary Ann Grintchenko said. “Even though these have been tumultuous times with COVID and the library crisis, we are amazed by all the support our library has been shown in both large and small donations. It is evident from this outpouring of support, that the public wants to see a new library at the Belmont site.”

The donation also came days before voters in Narragansett passed a pair of referendum questions tied to the library project in town.

Question 3 limits $5.8 million in bond spending that voters approved in 2016 to renovating the Belmont at the pier into a new location for the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library. It also would allow the town to apply for matching or grant funds from the state for the acquisition and renovation of a new library.

Question 5 approved a resolution that prevents the sale, lease or transfer of ownership of the Belmont building, which is owned by the town, unless approved through a voter initiative or if strictly for use as a town library.

Voters also ushered in a slate of five town council candidates who support the Belmont location. Three members of the outgoing council have tried for two years to sell the Belmont building, saying the location was not suitable for a library.

The final phase of the Save Our Library Fundraising Campaign will continue through the spring of 2021.

“We are thrilled to have made so much progress on this campaign so far, and we’re looking forward to continuing the work in the months to come,” fundraising consultant Dan Barry of Daniel R. Barry & Associates said.

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