Theo Sullivan is a Staples water polo coach — and Westport Public Library lover.
Recently, he urged the Board of Finance to restore cuts proposed in next year’s budget. If not, he noted, the library might have to close on many Sundays.
When he told his team what he’d said, one responded: “I didn’t know they were allowed to close a library.”
“They” can do whatever “they” want.
So Westporters have barraged RTM members with phone calls and emails, pleading for restoration. The RTM Finance Committee recommended restoring $45,000 cut by the Board of Finance. The full RTM now must agree, by at least a 70 percent vote.
The proposed cuts have touched citizens in ways that others — aimed at public safety, recreation, even education — have not.
The reason, director Maxine Bleiweis thinks, is because the library is integrally tied in with the way the town identifies itself.
“The library embodies how nearly everyone learns, grows, and becomes creative,” Maxine says. “It’s like part of the Westport air — and now the air supply may be cut off.”
“We don’t have time to be closed,” she says. “We have to be open, to feed and nurture all that goes on in this community.”
Our discussion was interrupted — it seemed almost like a setup, but it wasn’t — by a call to Maxine from Keith Richards’ publicist. If the Rolling Stones’ PR guy needs the Westport library, there can’t be anyone in the area who doesn’t.
If the library can’t get no satisfaction through the restoration of funds, Sunday closings are a real possibility. That’s a better option, Bleiweis says, than cutting staff and services whenever the doors are open.
“You can’t have a restaurant that functions at less than full capacity,” the library director notes. And — as has been proven over and over — the Westport library is as much a part of town life as food and wine.
Or the air that we breathe.
(The RTM begins voting Monday to accept or restore Board of Finance budget cut recommendations for all town departments. The library is one of the last agenda items — meaning a vote may not come until Tuesday, or even Wednesday. In the meantime, Westporters are contacting RTM members, and/or making plans to attend the meeting — whenever it is held.)