New Greenfield library plans moving ahead

  • The Greenfield Public Library on Main Street in Greenfield. Groundbreaking for a new library is expected to take place before April 22, 2021. Staff File Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/10/2020 3:56:27 PM

GREENFIELD — The vision of a new library has been discussed since at least 2012, and now the co-chair of the Greenfield Public Library’s Building Committee says it’s within reach, possibly opening as early as the end of 2022.

Ed Berlin said groundbreaking could take place before the start of 2021 if everything falls into place, but it needs to happen by April 22, 2021, unless the city requests an extension from the state.

He said the groundbreaking will all depend on the final designs, which the committee is working to finish, as well as what will be done with the current Fire Station — the station would have to be gone by the time construction begins.

“We are absolutely thrilled about this,” Berlin said. “This new library is going to be so special.”

Late last year, Greenfield’s voters approved building a new library, with 61 percent of them voting “yes.”

The state has promised $9.4 million for the project, he said, leaving the city to pay about $10.1 million. The Greenfield Public Library Foundation has said it will contribute about $2 million to reduce the city’s cost to about $8.1 million. The foundation announced this week that it has received a $500,000 donation from artist Hale Johnson.

When his wife Lorraine died in 2016 after 55 years of marriage, Johnson said he sought a way to acknowledge her contribution to his career and her volunteer work as a member of the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library. He chose to honor her memory by confirming a bequest of $500,000 to the Greenfield Public Library Foundation that will support the construction of the new library.

Berlin said the Building Committee is making “tremendous progress” on designs of the building. He said original designs were tentative and were used to apply for the grant, but now, the committee is getting down to the details and expects to have most of them completed over the next month or so.

“We’ve met 12 times since the beginning of the year,” he said. “We want to design the best possible library and make sure we reduce the money taxpayers have to spend as much as possible. We’re right on schedule.”

Berlin said everyone is enthusiastic about the project and working hard to see it through. He said the city will be opening bids for a new Public Safety Complex, and will meet next week to discuss the Fire Station, what will be done and when. He said then the library will have a better idea of its timeline.

“Our goal is to move quickly,” he said. “We’ve been told we might be able to build a slightly less expensive library if we move quickly because contractors are looking for work and bids on some projects are coming in lower, we were told by our project manager. He said he’s seen bids come in 15 percent under cost. That would be big for us.”

Berlin said three advisory committees are working with the Building Committee — artisans and craftspeople, landscaping and teens.

“We want as much input about different rooms and areas of the library, not only from our subcommittees, but from the public,” he said. “It’s everyone’s library.”

Berlin said new designs will be released in the near future. Over the next month, the committee will take a “deep dive” into design development and make whatever changes it deems necessary.

Then, those designs will go to a cost estimator.

He said the Building Committee has had lengthy discussions on all aspects of the building, including energy efficiency, maintenance, landscaping and configuration. There have even been talks to make the library “pandemic safe.” For instance, the committee has discussed touchless doors and bathroom fixtures, as well as lighting.

Berlin said so far the city has not spent a dollar out of its budget. It has received about $1.8 million from the state for planning, and that money would need to be paid back if, for some reason, the library project was not completed.

The new library will sit between the current one and the post office. There will be parking on the north side of the building in the back. The building will be set back from Main Street at about the same distance as the post office and current library.

“We hit the ground running when Mayor Roxann Wedegartner came into office and we haven’t stopped,” Berlin said. “I hope we have a ribbon-cutting by the end of 2022.”

Reach Anita Fritz at 413-772-9591 or afritz@recorder.com.



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