Sterilite Corp. Chairman Albert Stone shuns publicity's limelight, but the 24,000-square-foot library, senior center and meeting complex in Townsend that he financed is the talk of the town.
The cost is not being disclosed. Local newspapers estimate the building cost at least $20 million.
I call it awe-inspiring. It's very impressive. Certainly it is nothing that the town could afford by itself, so we are very, very grateful to Mr. Stone, said Town Administrator Greg Barnes.
[Stone has] certainly left his mark on Townsend, Barnes added.
Stone declined to comment. His company, housewares injection molder Sterilite, is the town's largest taxpayer and employer.
Barnes said that officials were stunned by the offer from Stone, which came about two years ago to help celebrate Townsend's 275th anniversary.
The new complex was dedicated Oct. 31. It's already become the focal point for the town, Barnes said.
For a town of 9,500, the new buildings are quite a change.
The old library was about 4,000 square feet. Now it is 18,000 square feet, all on one floor, with a barrel arch in the middle and more than 50 new computers.
It just feels cozy now the woodworking warms up the place. It's a combination of new and old, said Heidi Fowler, library director. The additional space means the library has room for new programs.
The old senior center was in a rented storefront at the only strip mall in town. The new center can hold 200 people and Council on Aging director Christine Clish is already seeing crowds.
There are new people here people I haven't seen before, she said. I feel that we came from a one-room schoolhouse to a palace, she said.
The amazing part of the complex is the total operating cost is almost equal to what it was before, according to David Chenelle, Townsend selectman chairman.
He noted that it incorporated many energy-saving features.
It is a tremendous gift. As far as technology and quality, it is probably much greater than the town would have been able to build on its own, Chenelle said.
He went on to say, Mr. Stone is a very devoted family man. He's very successful businessman and he guards his private life intensely. He does care for his community and he cares for his workers.
Sterilite was founded in 1939 as a partnership between brothers Saul and Edward Stone Albert Stone's father and uncle, respectively and Earl Tupper, to make heels for women's shoes.
Tupper went on to form Tupperware Brands Inc. Sterilite turned to housewares in the 1960s. Its wares are now sold in Wal-Mart Stores as well as drug and discount stores.
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