The two former-branch libraries have sat unused for several years, and Tuesday night the Town Council will talk about what to do with the two buildings.
The East Branch is located on Mt. Auburn Street and the North Branch sits on Orchard Street. Tuesday, the Council will hear from Assistant Town Manager Steve Magoon about what to do with the old libraries.
Some in town have suggested having the Watertown Public Schools use the branch libraries to help relieve the crowding in the elementary schools.
The Town Council will have the final say on whether to accept a bid and lease or sell the buildings.
This is not the first time the town has sought to sell or rent the buildings. In 2011 the town put out a request for proposals and received two to lease for the East Branch and none for the North Branch.
One bid was from Russell Cooperative Preschool for $1 a year for 25 years, and the other was from the St. James Church for $24,000 a year for 5 years with 10, 5-year extensions at market rate. St. James also offered $1 million to purchase the building but that could not be accepted because the town had put out a request for proposals to lease the building. Ultimately the agreement fell through.
The buildings are old and require significant work to bring them up to code. The East Branch, for instance, dates back to 1926, and in 2011 it was estimated it would cost $1.5 million to bring it up to code. The North Branch sits in the old location of Lowell School, but was taken over by the library when the school moved. The current brick facade was built in 1941, according to the book “Crossroads on the Charles: A History of Watertown, Massachusetts,” by Maud deLeigh Hodges.