LETTER: THREE REASONS TO POSTPONE CPAC FUNDING FOR LIBRARY EXPANSION

Directions to the Woodbury Room, Jones Library. Photo: Art Keene

I  encourage CPAC  to rethink their preliminary vote of $1 million in support for the Jones Library application to expand and secure the Special Collections.   There are three reasons for my position..

I am a passionate supporter of the Jones and all of it’s programs.   I think I understand that libraries of the 21st century are not just about books, but are a central part of how a community connects. I’ve been a Jones Library user for longer than I’d like to admit!  I want only the best for the Library!

Here are my three reasons for recommending a postponement of the $1 million allocation to the Jones.

  1. We don’t yet know what the Jones renovation plan will be, whether anticipated state funding will be forthcoming, and specifically how, where and at what cost the Special Collections will be housed and protected.  The CPA Committee rejected a proposal from a group of North Amherst Library supporters for $150,000 to support historic preservation of the NA Library during upcoming renovations.  The explanation for the rejection of this funding was that there was no final plan for the renovations.  I acknowledge that the proposal from the North Amherst Library advocates was not a detailed as the Jones proposal, but the quality of the proposal was not the reason given for rejecting the NA Library request.  The reason given was the lack of a final renovation plan with funding in place.  Is that not the case right now with the Jones?
  2. The pandemic has changed everything regarding Amherst’s financial situation at least for the coming two years.  We don’t yet know how our priorities will need to adjusted and  what will emerge as priorities in the coming months.  Because there’s no rush for this funding, why not wait and see how things settle out.  The CPA money is Town money, and in a financial crisis like this we need to think of it as possibly being part of a solution to a challenge the Town has not faced in decades.
  3. I agree with the minority report that the proposal “does not meet the Community Preservation Act’s definition of allowable projects for historical preservation, and it departs significantly from past practices.”  I think their report explains this point well — no need to repeat.

    Meg Gage
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