Letter: Protect Town’s Interests from Jones Trustees


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The following letter was sent to the Amherst Town Council on May 31, 2024

I am writing because the irresponsible Jones Library Board of Trustees remains intent on continuing to waste our money, and only you can stop them.

I will not belabor the history of this project, one of repeated cost overruns, unmet promises, and rising costs that the board has repeatedly sought to hide or to pass along to the people of Amherst.  We were promised a $36 million project: now over $50 million and rising?  We were promised net zero: now it is to be net-zero ready.  We were promised a cap on town spending with private fundraising to fill gaps: now private fundraising is, according to Jones Treasurer Bob Pam, only 25% of need and remittances to the town are months behind schedule.

Having misled and mismanaged, the board now wants more money from the town to redesign (down-design) this white elephant so that it can be put it out to bid, again?  Another million down the drain, requiring further cuts from essential town services.  Unlike teachers in our schools or filled potholes in our streets, this is money that serves no purpose except to feed the ego of the leaders of a private body. 

As a town, we were misled about the need for a complete rebuild of the Jones, or the available alternative, the Plan B that the board conveniently hid in a drawer.  We now know that we cannot trust the Jones Library Board of Trustees, and our other elected officials need to protect our interests by staking this zombie project now.  

Gerald Friedman

Gerald Friedman is Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts. His most recent book, The Case for Medicare for All, appeared in March 2020 with Polity Press.

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3 thoughts on “Letter: Protect Town’s Interests from Jones Trustees

  1. I agree whole heartedly with Professor Friedman. This project has become a monument to the Jones Board, a pyramid, a 10 Carat diamond to validate their efforts rather than a project based upon the actual needs of the community.

    It should be killed now, then rethought and planned afresh with new faces.

  2. I believe that the Council has a climate policy. Why is this never discussed? The climate assaults of this project, starting with demolition, are huge.
    Buildings that are best for the environment are the buildings that are already built.
    The town should cherish this treasure and with kindness to the planet do what needs to be done to preserve and care for our inheritance.

    Molly Turner,
    Former Jones Library Trustee

  3. Molly, thank you for bringing up the Town’s Climate policy which the Council did approve. Unfortunately the library trustees did not have to approve it and the Council can’t seem to remember it.

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