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Greenfield library receives $9.38M grant

Funds reduce cost of constructing new library in the city by nearly half

  • Above the Greenfield Public Library’s front entrance, a banner announcing the grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners. To celebrate the grant, the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library will be holding a party July 21 from 10 a.m. to noon at the library. Dan Desrochers/Recorder Staff



Recorder Staff
Thursday, July 12, 2018

GREENFIELD — Construction of a new library could soon be a reality after a state board promised a $9.38 million grant for the project.

The Greenfield Public Library received the grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to help start the construction of a new library on Main Street. The grant makes the new library more feasible for the city, reducing the cost by nearly half.

“It’s a huge offset to what the building will actually cost,” Doris Cowdrey, chairwoman for the Library Board of Trustees, said.

To celebrate the grant, the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library will be holding a party July 21 from 10 a.m. to noon at the library.

Cowdrey said the original estimated cost for the new building was about $20.5 million, but with the grant the total needed to complete the project is about $11.1 million. And Cowdrey said fundraising and modifications to the building plans could knock an additional $5 million off the price tag.

Cowdrey said she hopes fundraising efforts from the Greenfield Public Library Foundation will raise $2 million.

Plan modifications including changing the goal of achieving platinum LEED certification — a type of environmentally-friendly building certification — to net zero energy use could reduce the cost and eliminate the need to raise an additional $3 million.

She said if these goals are achieved, the city would have to contribute just $6 million to the project, which she suggested could be bonded over a 25-year period.

“The city will get this, relatively speaking, for a low amount,” she said.

Before the grant can be used for construction, though, Cowdrey said City Council must vote to approve the money within six months, then construction must start within a year and a half. She said the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is amenable to extensions, however.

The grant does not need matching funds from the city, either.

The proposed site for the new building would be located between the existing library and the post office on Main Street. The fire station that is on the proposed site will also be demolished, and a new station will be part of a proposed emergency services complex in the city at 114 Main St.

Mayor William Martin said negotiations for the emergency services complex are ongoing, though a lease is expected to be finalized by next month.

“We knew we were coming up in 2019 (for the grant), and we are quite aware that the removal of the fire department building is essential for the ongoing success of the library project,” he said.

Cowdrey said the new library is expected to be 26,800 square feet. Features will include improved handicap accessibility, more meeting spaces for the public, individual study areas and spacious and unique areas for children and teenagers.

Cowdrey said about 500 people visit the library each day.