Question 1 passes: Greenfield to get new library


Published: 11/5/2019 11:56:43 PM

GREENFIELD — The city will get a new library now that the ballot question passed.

The $19.5 million library was approved by a vote of 3,294 to 2,108 Tuesday.

Ed Berlin stood reading the tickets taped to the wall across from the Greenfield High School gym. Berlin saw that he won by precinct in the seven of the eight available, and turned to his fellow library supporters to say, calmly and quietly, “We did it, we did it, we did it.”

Berlin said the vote was seven years in the making — he began working on the project in 2012.

“You know what, my head is just spinning. I’m ready to start crying to tell you the truth. I’m so absolutely thrilled for the city of Greenfield,” Berlin said. “The town has really showed that they want to make an investment into our future. So many people have worked so hard for so long, and the citizens heard and I’m just so thrilled.”

Now the building committee gets to work on the final design, according to Berlin.

“If all goes well, we break ground in 2021, in the spring of 2021, and we open in the fall of 2022,” he said.

He acknowledged that this was a big hurdle to have cleared.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners awarded a $9,378,183 grant toward the project.

The Greenfield Public Library Foundation began fundraising for the project and raised about $800,000 in donations and pledges — with a $2 million goal — but fundraising stopped once the library was put on the ballot, according to Berlin, chair of the Building Committee and vice chair of the Greenfield Public Library board of trustees. Berlin added that the foundation will proceed to generate money and he expects it will meet its fundraising goal of $2 million.

The current library plan is for a 26,800-square-foot building. The current library, built as a private residence in 1797, is 15,000 square feet. The new library will be built on land the city owns on Main Street, between the current library and post office.

Mayor William Martin said the planning process for the proposed location for a new fire station on Beacon and Riddell streets would continue once the City Council removed a proposed appropriation from the table.

According to May 22 City Council meeting minutes, a “$550,000 appropriation to hire the architect and engineering firms to develop the plans for a new fire station was tabled.”

After the City Council approved building a new library in March, a citizen’s petition challenging the vote successfully put it on the ballot.

With two executive orders from Martin’s office, the library’s use has been restricted over the past two months due to safety and accessibility concerns.

If 30 percent of the building’s assessed value were to be spent on improvements, a Level III renovation scope, according to the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, would require a “total rehab project.”

Other state building code requirements may also require improvements.

“The library is valued at $723,600. Therefore, the 30 percent threshold is actually $217,080. Included in that 30 percent are all qualified expenditures we have already spent in the last three years,” Martin wrote in a memo to the City Council.


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