Library project tops state waitlist

  • Greenfield Public Library recorder staff/PAUL FRANZ

Recorder Staff
Friday, July 14, 2017

GREENFIELD — Sitting in the top spot on the state’s waitlist for money to build a new library may place Greenfield in a better position.

“Not only are we thrilled with the amount of money, but to be number one on the waiting list, it’s perfect for Greenfield and there are several advantages to our placement on the list,” Library Director Ellen Boyer said.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners announced this week that Greenfield has been given the top spot on the waitlist for funding, which includes 23 other communities. Nine communities — none of which are in Franklin County — received grants this cycle.

Greenfield is on a waitlist for $9.3 million in funding for the construction, expected to cost $20.96 million.

Boyer said the state money has already been approved by a bond authorization, and Greenfield will be the first town to receive funding the next time the Legislature votes to release money. She said there’s no indication of what year that will be, but judging from the past, it’s usually two to three years after the original announcement, meaning Greenfield will likely receive its grant around 2020.

Boyer said being placed on the waitlist gives the town time to solidify plans for building a new public safety complex and gives the newly formed Greenfield Public Library Foundation time to mount a capital campaign to help pay for part of the project through private donations.

The library will also seek other grants and outside funding opportunities to reduce the ultimate cost to the town, according to Boyer. In order to receive the state grant, the town must vote to match the grant amount within a year.

The new 26,800-square-foot library will sit between the current library, located in a historic colonial home on Main Street, and the post office, which also occupies a historic building. The fire station, which sits on the planned site, will have to be torn down.

She said the library will also seek further input from the public on what it would like to see in the new building. The current library is not ADA-compliant, according to Boyer, as both of the front doors can only be accessed by stairs.

“There’s a significant portion of the population we can’t serve because the building makes it impossible for us to do that,” she said.

The new building will also have a larger space for children — including an activity area — and a section for teens that doesn’t exist in the current library.

“We’re so excited and really looking forward to being able to offer them a place of their own,” Boyer said.