Letter: CPAC Urged To Reject Jones Library Funding Request

Jones Library Building Committee meeting

Architects rendering of the proposed renovated Jones Library. Finegold Alexander Architects. Photo: Jones Library

Editor’s note:  The following Letter was sent to the Community Preservation Act Committee on November 10.

Save Our Library is a grassroots group advocating for a prudent renovation of the Jones Library. As such, we are concerned that, although the Jones Library Special Collections holds vital Town documents and should be preserved, the Trustees’ request for $1 million is problematic for the following reasons:

(1) The Town has not approved this capital project, and it is unclear whether the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Massachusetts Historic Commission have approved new schematic designs. Both these approvals are required;

(2)  This request for $200,000 annually would forestall other Town historic preservation grants for that amount for five years;

(3)  The library is already poised to receive $13.8 million in public funding and, if CPA approves this proposal, it may require a bond authorization, thereby increasing the Town’s debt, and;

(4) Currently, Special Collections is in a fragile state, due to a failed HVAC system that damaged many significant materials last July. Regardless of how the Town decides to renovate the Jones, the collection will remain in a perilous environment for another three to four years before renovations could be completed.

When the Holyoke Public Library could not house its special collections safely, alternative space was found at Holyoke Community College. Surely the Trustees can find similar temporary quarters, until the Town can determine reasonable solutions for our pressing capital project needs.

We therefore urge you to deny the Jones Trustees’ application at this time and, rather, encourage the Trustees to request emergency CPA funding to move the Special Collections to a safe location.

Thank you for your dedication and difficult work allocating scare funds.

Save Our Library Steering Committee

Terry S. Johnson (Chair)
Sarah McKee
Christina Platt
Carol Pope

CPAC Update by Terry S. Johnson

The Community Preservation Act Committee (CPAC) convened a public hearing for all twelve FY22 grant applications on November 12, 2020. 

Regarding the Jones Library’s $1,000,000 request for Special Collections mechanical systems and storage equipment in the proposed demolition/expansion project, two members of the public spoke against the Jones’ grant, and one person spoke in support.

During the straw polling for all projects, the Jones’ application received a score of 4.2 out a possible 5.  Five members of the committee gave it a 5, one member a 4 and three members a 3.

Seven out of the 12 projects received scores over 4.

Some committee members noted that the range of scores of all the projects is closer than in past years. Deliberations and voting will begin at the next CPAC on November 19th at 6:00 p.m. This meeting has not yet been posted. There will be an opportunity for public comments. Letters by the public in response to any of the applications  may be sent to CPAC c/o Anthony Delaney at delaneya@amherstma.gov

For a full report of the CPAC meeting and a record of the straw votes of individual committee members, look here.

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