Amherst’s Jones Library director seeks planning grant for renovations



Last modified: Tuesday, September 24, 2013

AMHERST — In 1993, a renovation and expansion project at the Jones Library modernized the 65-year-old building and served to meet the needs of its growing number of patrons.

Twenty years later, with an increasing list of deficiencies at the main branch in the Amherst public library system, Library trustees are again embarking on plans to improve the 50,000-square-foot building, with hopes to create more space and better use existing areas.

They also want to resolve issues that include temperature extremes inside, snow and ice falling off the slate roof at the main entrance and the fact that the meeting room in inaccessible after hours.

Library Director Sharon Sharry recently submitted a letter of intent outlining the trustees’ interest in seeking a $50,000 planning and design grant through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. The grant application is due Jan. 16.

The hope, Sharry said, is to get the grant in June and have the money by October 2014, which would be used to hire a consultant to prepare designs in advance of any construction.

This planning and design grant will require a 50 percent match from the town, likely to be considered as part of the capital budget at next spring’s annual Town Meeting.

But a grant to do the constructions would likely not be available until fall 2017 at the earliest, depending on funding action by the state legislature and where the Jones project ranks among others across the state. The work would begin a year or two later.

The library was last awarded a construction grant in 1990 for a $4.6 million renovation and expansion that added more than 12,000 square feet on three levels and upgraded the heating, air conditioning, plumbing and wiring.

In the letter of intent, Sharry stated that “we must recognize the interior’s profound needs. Paramount of these needs is the lack of safety and security issues coupled with dysfunctional workflow due to poor design.”

Town Manager John Musante said he supports examining ways to make the library’s main building a better place.

“When looking at the long term at the Jones Library, and the last significant investment in the property, it makes sense to do a needs assessment,” Musante said.

“Trustees are showing leadership on that to make this a priority,” he said.

The Joint Capital Planning Committee is expected to review the $25,000 request this fall and winter and, if approved, recommend Town Meeting support next spring.

AMHERST — In 1993, a renovation and expansion project at the Jones Library modernized the 65-year-old building and served to meet the needs of its growing number of patrons.

Twenty years later, with an increasing list of deficiencies at the main branch in the Amherst public library system, Library trustees are again embarking on plans to improve the 50,000-square-foot building, with hopes to create more space and better use existing areas. They also want to resolve issues that include temperature extremes inside, snow and ice falling off the slate roof at the main entrance and the fact that the meeting room in inaccessible after hours.

Library Director Sharon Sharry recently submitted a letter of intent outlining the trustees’ interest in seeking a $50,000 planning and design grant through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. The grant application is due Jan. 16.

The hope, Sharry said, is to get the grant in June and have the money by October 2014, which would be used to hire a consultant to prepare designs in advance of any construction.

This planning and design grant will require a 50 percent match from the town, likely to be considered as part of the capital budget at next spring’s annual Town Meeting.

But a grant to do the constructions would likely not be available until fall 2017 at the earliest, depending on funding action by the state legislature and where the Jones project ranks among others across the state. The work would begin a year or two later.

The library was last awarded a construction grant in 1990 for a $4.6 million renovation and expansion that added more than 12,000 square feet on three levels and upgraded the heating, air conditioning, plumbing and wiring.

In the letter of intent, Sharry stated that “we must recognize the interior’s profound needs. Paramount of these needs is the lack of safety and security issues coupled with dysfunctional workflow due to poor design.”

Town Manager John Musante said he supports examining ways to make the library’s main building a better place.

“When looking at the long term at the Jones Library, and the last significant investment in the property, it makes sense to do a needs assessment,” Musante said. “Trustees are showing leadership on that to make this a priority.”

The Joint Capital Planning Committee is expected to review the $25,000 request this fall and winter and, if approved, recommend Town Meeting support next spring.


 


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