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Arms Library roof project ready for architect

  • Laurie Wheeler of the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls points out where water is leaking into the building causing the paint to peel and other damage in several places around the building. Jan 25 2012 Franz

    Laurie Wheeler of the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls points out where water is leaking into the building causing the paint to peel and other damage in several places around the building. Jan 25 2012 Franz

  • Laurie Wheeler of the Arms Library in Shelburne Falls points out where water is leaking into the building causing the paint to peel and other damage in several places around the building. Jan 25 2012 Franz

SHELBURNE FALLS — An anonymous donor this week has offered $10,000 toward planned restoration work of the Pratt Memorial building, which houses the Arms Library.

This latest donation puts fundraising efforts for the Shelburne Falls library building at about $260,246, in a little less than a year. That sum includes the $50,000 that was approved by Shelburne town meeting voters last spring.

The next step will be for the Pratt Memorial Building Committee to hire an architect for both the restoration design work and to serve as project manager for the construction itself, according to fundraising Chairwoman Whit Sanford.

Last January, Sanford and Arms Library Trustees Chairwoman Donna Liebl came to Shelburne selectmen, saying the 1914-built library was developing “serious problems” and that building repairs could not be delayed. “We’re out to save this building — not simply repair it,” Sanford had told the board. “If we don’t do it now, we may never be able to do it, because it’s going to get more costly.”

There were two fundraising goals: the first was to raise $325,000 to $400,000 to insulate and replace the roof and fix foundation and drainage problems. The second is to raise another $200,000 to bring the building up to code with electrical upgrades and better lighting, cleaning and repointing the masonry and window replacement.

According to Sanford and Liebl, the Pratt Library Building Committee will soon put out a request for qualifications for an architect/project manager, with assistance from the Franklin Regional Council of Governments. Liebl also chairs the Pratt committee.

Liebl said the committee hopes to interview prospective architects for the project soon.

“We want to get some solid numbers (for the costs) of the types of repairs that are needed,” said Liebl. “This will help us go for the larger grants. Right now, our numbers are just ‘guestimates,’” she said.

Sanford said the group hopes to hire an architect by May. The architect will be required to create building plans and cost estimates within 60 days.

If the group has enough money for the roof construction this summer, through grants and donations, then roof construction could begin in August, she said. However, if not enough money has been raised, construction may have wait until the spring of 2014 because deadlines for grant applications are primarily in December. She said the group will be seeking grants, in hopes of getting the roofwork done this year.

Sanford said the roof has been patched for this winter and may have to be patched again next fall if the work can’t be done in 2013.

Organizers are planning another community fundraiser to be held at the library on Feb. 10.

In 1854, the library got its start with a bequest from Major Ira Arms; and, in 1913, Francis R. and Lydia Pratt offered to donate a library building to the town in memory of Pratt’s parents. The town of Shelburne owns it, the Pratt Memorial Library Building Committee maintains it, and the Arms Library Trustees oversees library operations. For 100 years, it has served many West County residents, especially those living in Buckland and Shelburne.

You can reach Diane Broncaccio at:
dbronc@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 277

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