Council Asks Jones Trustees For More Detail On Project Costs

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

The Amherst Town Council has sent a memo to the Jones Library Trustees requesting detailed financial information about the proposed expansion of the library as well as two repair options.

The memo states that “in order for the Town Council to consider accepting the grant, we are requesting a comparison of the [Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners] MBLC funded proposed library renovation/expansion project to the two options for the potential repair of the library.”

A comparison of total costs that include escalation to the likely year of construction is requested, as well as any premium for improving energy efficiency. A tally of expenses that will be incurred for rental and temporary housing of the library during construction are also requested, along with details on future operational costs for a larger library, and any impact on the library’s endowment.

The Council also seeks a breakdown of the financing and cost to taxpayers, including any use of Community Preservation Act funds (which are generated through a tax surcharge on property owners) and historic tax credits. 

As part of a section of questions on the operating budget, the Council asks “does completing either project (Expansion or Repair 1 or Repair 2) in any way jeopardize continued operating funds support of the Branch libraries?” 

In addition to providing written responses to all of the questions, the Council asks that an oral presentation be delivered at a future Council meeting and at a public forum where residents would be permitted to ask questions and express their views on the proposed project. 

While a deadline is not specified, the memo states that “responses to additional questions from the Town Council be provided to the Town Council prior to any action taken in consideration of accepting the grant.”
Last fall, the Trustees asked that the Council make a decision by the end of April 2021 whether or not to accept the MBLC grant and authorize borrowing for the expansion project. This previous Indy article compared the estimated cost of the expansion with the lower of the two repair proposals and estimated the cost differential would be approximately $18.7 million over the life of the loan.

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