Letter: Large Earmark For Jones Library Ignores Pressing Community Needs


Jones Library. Photo: amherstma.gov

The following letter appeared previously in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

The Gazette story “Feds come through with $1 million for Jones Library project” ( 1/3) reported that the Jones Library renovation and expansion project in Amherst and the Grow Food Northampton Community Farm were the only two recipients in Hampshire County of funds from President Biden’s $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, with the library project taking 73% of the county earmark.

Surely Hampshire County has urgent financial needs in the sectors of health, public safety, education, public works and social equity that might have benefited in the same way as did other communities in Jim McGovern’s 2nd Congressional District.

It appears the Representative McGovern was sold the same bill of goods as the Amherst Town Council majority who voted to continue pouring money into the library expansion after it grew to be $14 million over budget, and despite the fact that the Jones Library is already the 22nd largest public library in the state, and, as revealed in the Gazette and Indy recently, was found by a library space consultant to be able to accommodate its programming needs within the existing building’s square footage.

Rita Burke

Rita Burke is a resident of Amherst

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3 thoughts on “Letter: Large Earmark For Jones Library Ignores Pressing Community Needs

  1. The grant award secured through our Congressman’s office is a tremendous triumph for our community, and a terrific boost to the effort to bring us the library we need and deserve. Kudos to the Congressman, his staff and the Jones capital campaign.

  2. We all support libraries because they offer so many important services to our community. My entire life has been framed by libraries from the Bronx, Avon by the Sea NJ, Irvington NY and Auburn NY. The concern is that Amherst has so many critical capital needs that deserve financial attention as well. Do they wait until the library is completed? Or is it that all new public and donor dollars go to the Library only? The recent Amherst Bulletin news report that our police officers are under staffed and working double shifts just raises this financial equity question in another way. Where do our limited community dollars go first, second and then third? And this is not to even mention the concerns of many about the cost of this library. Although a smaller community, Hadley has a new library for $8 Million. A recent visit to the Jones revealed years of neglect and deferred interior improvements. How could this happen? Was this an accident or on purpose? In 1990 I worked as a town councilor in Irvington NY to move the Irvington NY Library into the historic Lord and Burnham Building. Are we letting the perfect library be the enemy of a good library while starving and/or delaying other validly important capital needs?

  3. The HVAC systems at the Jones were already “on the fritz” 15+ years ago, and when some Select Board members and Library Trustees of that era pressed for capital funds to make repairs, my recollection is that others were already planning a demolition/expansion project like we’re now saddled with, and advocated for not expending such funds (much as TJM surmises)….

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