The following letter also appeared in The Daily Hampshire Gazette.
The Headline of the September 1 Gazette stating that the “Jones capital campaign rakes in money” is misleading and inaccurate. The Friends of the Jones Library had previously agreed to raise $6.6 million for the project and have so far raised $3.3 M in donations and pledges. Of the $1.3 million that has come from institutions, $1 million is taxpayer money from the Community Preservation Act, designated to protect the library’s special collections and cannot be used for new construction. They have also gathered $1.79 million in pledges. This hardly strikes us as raking in the money. In response to the latest escalating cost estimates, the Friends will need to raise an additional $10 and $15 million. While the Jones Trustees have indicated their willingness to spend the entire library endowment (currently valued at $8.6M) to help pay for any budget overrun, their fundraising to date, hardly inspires confidence that they will hit their target of raising the total of $13- $18M to meet their share of the current estimated budget shortfall. And they have been unwilling to discuss who will make up the difference if they come up short, or how the library will cover its annual operating expenses if they spend down their entire endowment, which now pays for about a third of their annual operating budget.
Do they expect Amherst taxpayers, who are trying to support several other pressing capital projects, to bail them out?
Maura Keene is a retired physician, a resident of Amherst, and a frequent contributor to The Amherst Indy.