Amherst council to discuss agreement that would move Jones project to construction bid phase  

  • Patrons enter the Jones Library in Amherst in 2021. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/18/2022 8:55:52 PM

AMHERST — A revised arrangement between the trustees for the Jones Library and the town that would allow the proposed expansion and renovation of the Amity Street building to reach the construction bid stage is on the Town Council agenda for Monday.

The bridging agreement, as it is being called, would supplement an existing memorandum of understanding that was part of the council’s April 2021 approval of the $36.3 million project to enlarge the building from 48,000 square feet to 63,000 square feet. That original deal was signed by Town Manager Paul Bockelman and trustees for the library.

Councilors, who meet starting at 6:30 p.m., are receiving a positive recommendation from the Finance Committee for the deal, which at its Sept. 13 meeting supported the draft of the “bridging agreement for the time period prior to moving to construction.”

The need for the amendment to the memorandum is due to inflation and delays to a project where costs have risen to an estimated $46.4 million, though councilors are not being asked to spend any more than the $15.75 million they originally authorized.

Library trustees are urging an affirmative vote, sending a memo to councilors to keep the project going, and that the library will cover the costs of design and other work until bids go out.

“Stopping or pausing now will only lead to greater costs when needed work gets done. Amherst needs and deserves a first-class facility for its first-class library,” they wrote.

Even with inflation, the project as envisioned is the best approach, as a renovation and reorganization within the existing footprint would not meet the needs of the library to serve the entire community equally, and could also prove even more expensive, the trustees said.

“With the Town Council the trustees reviewed the minimum cost for a repair of the building that would allow the library to continue to operate safely. We determined that it would cost the town as much or more to complete the minimum necessary repairs as to finance an addition and renovation of the kind we are now planning. None of this has changed, except that costs for both the necessary repair work and the renovation and expansion have escalated.”

Trustees have also unanimously pledged to fund all costs through the construction bidding process and also unanimously endorsed coordinated efforts, with other area communities, to get more state support for building projects.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

23 Service Center Road
Northampton, MA 01060


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy