LETTER: LEGALITY OF SPENDING CPA FUNDS ON JONES LIBRARY EXPANSION IS QUESTIONABLE

Children's Room, Jones Library. Photo: Art Keene

I am writing to voice my concern about the lawfulness of spending  CPA funds for the Jones Library expansion.

The opinion of the Town’s Lawyer seems questionable to me, and it disagrees with both the MA Dept. of Revenue and the Commonwealth’s Community Preservation Act (CPA) Coalition. CPA funds are forbidden to be used to “create” but rather are for “preservation”. The sentence that seems particularly illogical from the Town’s KP Law Opinion is:

“The Town is not constructing a new building for the purpose of protecting the Town Records; rather, since the Town Records have been displayed in parts of the existing Jones Library, the CPA funds will be used to construct a new space that is specifically designed to house and display the Town Records, thereby protecting them from injury, harm or destruction.”

Can one really say that the “new space” mentioned by the lawyer is not “creating” anything new? And is there not a less expensive way to protect our Town Records from harm?

The Library plans call for significant new construction. It is disingenuous to call this a renovation, and the amount of money the CPA Committee is considering is huge by comparison to most projects. How many other eligible projects will be put on hold or rejected due to this expenditure, if approved?

Finally, every decision this Town makes is supposed to consider the implications regarding our CO2 footprint. How does this project fit in with the Town’s environmental goals? If possible I’d like specifics about that justification.

Van Kaynor

Editor’s note:  Amherst’s Community Preservation Act Committee has received 20 letters in response to the Jones Library Trustees request for $1,000,000 to support new quarters for the library’s special collections.   All 20 can be found here ( follow links to 2021:2020-06-11).

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