Jones Library trustees solicit estimate for essential work only

  • Staff photo

Staff Writer
Published: 2/12/2020 6:10:39 PM

AMHERST — A $35.6 million expansion and renovation of the Jones Library on Amity Street is the preferred course of action for library trustees for upgrading the aging building.

But before embarking on the project to enlarge the 48,000-square-foot library by about 17,000 square feet, which will depend on a $13.87 million state grant and $15.08 million in borrowing that Town Council would approve, trustees want to make sure Amherst officials and residents understand the costs for all necessary repairs and maintenance at the Amity Street site, as well as what it would take to make the 1928 building fully handicapped accessible. 

Building on a 2017 report from Western Builders of Granby, which showed there were between $8 and $9.5 million in deferred maintenance, trustees agreed Wednesday to have Kuhn Riddle Architects of Amherst update this information and add an accessibility component.

The trustees will spend $18,600 to hire Kuhn Riddle for the two-month study, to be finished around mid-April.

“We’ll try to give you as comprehensive a number as we can,” said Aelan Tierney, a principal with Kuhn Riddle.

Library Director Sharon Sharry said the public should understand that with the state grant and fundraising, Amherst will get a 21st-century library, with both more space and a restored interior, to meet the needs of the community.

The figures Kuhn Riddle will provide will be for essential work only, rather than any expansion. “It is just going to repair and to make this building livable,” Sharry said.

Under a renovation-only project, with all expenses covered by the town rather than the state, Sharry said the library would not get more space for special collections and the English as a Second Language program, a dedicated area for teens or an improved room for smaller children and their parents.

George Hicks, maintenance supervisor for the library, said Kuhn Riddle will take the work done by Western and add to it. That report included the costs for replacing the atrium skylights and the south elevator, making improvements to the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, and doing interior and exterior renovations.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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