$1.17M override for new Shutesbury library is TM’s featured item

  • The M.N. Spear Memorial Library in Shutesbury center. FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/16/2022 8:50:45 PM

SHUTESBURY — Voters in Shutesbury are being asked to take the next step in constructing a new library by approving a $1.17 million Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion override at Annual Town Meeting on Saturday.

The town’s portion of the money needed to build a 5,490-square-foot library, pegged at a cost of $6.4 million, is one of 47 articles that will be taken up beginning at 9 a.m. on the field behind Town Hall.

The warrant features a series of additional spending items, including a $6.7 million municipal budget for fiscal year 2023, that is $72,139, or 1.1% higher, than this year’s $6.63 million budget; and the transfer of $60,000 in free cash to cover the design and engineering costs for replacing the asphalt portion of the Shutesbury Elementary School roof. Last year, Town Meeting allocated $254,100 to fix the gym roof at the school.

The override, which will need two-thirds majority support at Town Meeting before going to voters for a ballot vote on June 28, comes a decade after residents failed to give a previous project sufficient support.

Shutesbury was selected for the statewide Small Library Pilot Project, meaning the town will only have to cover a quarter of eligible costs, and all of the ineligible costs, which combined are projected to be $2.44 million. The remainder of the local money will come from other identified sources, including free cash and stabilization accounts, the library capital building fund and the library gift fund.

A letter from the trustees of the M.N. Spear Memorial Library, which has been in operation for 120 years, spells out the need for a new facility: “After decades of deliberation, discussion, and debate, Shutesbury has the wonderful opportunity to build the library it needs and deserves with a unique state grant for libraries in small communities that covers 75% of eligible costs and an estimated 65% of total costs.”

That letter also explains that the building will feature a children’s room, teen and adult reading areas, a community room that can seat up to 50 people, two bathrooms and a small study room. The project will be built on Lot O-32, across from the Highway Department on Leverett Road.

While some residents have raised concerns about the site, including costs related to potential remediation of contaminants, Town Administrator Becky Torres said tests have not shown evidence of any issues. A tower was operated there by Westover Air Force Base from 1957 to 1967, and she is in touch with the Army Corps of Engineers, which removed a tank from the site in the mid-1990s.

A citizen petition related to the school roof seeks the transfer of $700,000 from free cash to fund both the design and engineering, and actual replacement, which has not been done despite applications to the Massachusetts School Building Authority beginning in 2014.

“The roof has continued to leak as isolated repairs are conducted while town officials refuse to allocate the funds necessary to replace the entire school roof,” the petition reads.

Various other spending includes borrowing $225,000 for a new Highway Department dump truck and using $54,000 in free cash for an interceptor SUV for police and $45,000 in free cash for an interceptor SUV for firefighters.

The Community Preservation Act account will be used for several projects, with $50,000 to assist Kestrel Land Trust to buy a lot on Pelham Hill Road with 2,000 feet of road frontage that is close to the Amethyst Brook headwaters and features a historic dam and mill; $22,000 to support Kestrel’s first phase of protecting conservation sites around Ames Pond; and $10,000 sought by the Historical Commission to repair and restore the historic mile guideboard on the Town Common.

The warrant also includes $346,650 to maintain operations of the Municipal Light Plant and $127,860 to mark the final payment for construction costs of the broadband buildout.

Other citizens petitions includes endorsement of both Medicare for All and the Fair Share Amendment and an appeal for the Planning Board to draft a lighting zoning bylaw for 2023, and a temporary bylaw to “reduce light pollution, unnecessary sky glow and other glare.”


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