Shutesbury residents celebrate future library with site tour

  • Shutesbury residents celebrate the future library with a site tour of the 22-acre 66 Leverett Road Lot 0-32 on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Elaine Puleo, a member of the Friends of the M.N. Spear Memorial Library, gives information to locals on Sunday regarding voting related to the future library. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • A bake sale and apparel sale at Shutesbury’s library celebration on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

  • Shutesbury residents celebrate the future library with a site tour of the 22-acre 66 Leverett Road Lot 0-32 on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/JULIAN MENDOZA

Staff Writer
Published: 5/1/2022 5:27:07 PM
Modified: 5/1/2022 5:25:35 PM

SHUTESBURY — Library trustees and the Friends of the M.N. Spear Memorial Library celebrated the town’s successful Small Library Pilot Project grant with a meet and greet, book giveaway, goods sale and site tour Sunday afternoon as residents rejoiced at the idea of a new library.

The celebration, which began at 2 p.m. at the future library’s 22-acre 66 Leverett Road Lot 0-32 location, previewed what has been made possible by receipt of a grant that will fund 75% of eligible costs associated with constructing the building. The $5 million state grant supplements the $562,000 that has already been privately and publicly raised. Voters at the May 21 Annual Town Meeting will be asked to accept the grant, as well as approve placement of an override question on the town’s June 28 election ballot that would allow Shutesbury to use a loan to fund the remaining building expenses.

M.N. Spear Memorial Library Trustees Co-Chair Kate Cell said the state’s decision to award funding to Shutesbury is cause for great celebration, recognizing that the small town with fewer than 1,800 residents typically lacks financial firepower.

“It’s a big deal!” she said. “The state is going to pay 75% of the cost of this library. That’s a lot of money.”

Cell added that the celebration, which included a walking tour of the plot complete with preliminary delineations of where rooms and other features would be, provided valuable insight to the community.

“I also wanted to give people a chance to see what they’ll be voting on in a couple weeks,” she said.

The trustees and Friends particularly emphasized the versatility of the conceptualized 5,490-square-foot library in relation to varying age demographics. As she led a resident on a tour through the site, Cell highlighted the idea of having a room that caters to teenagers.

“There really is no place for them to just gather,” she said, “so that’s something we’re really excited about.”

Elaine Puleo, a member of the Friends of the M.N. Spear Memorial Library, said she is excited for how seniors will benefit from a circuit breaker tax credit that allows income-eligible seniors a 50% tax credit, the library’s first time supporting such a system.

“Seniors who are going to make the most out of the library get to say, ‘I don’t have to pay for this!’” Puleo said.

The current M.N. Spear Memorial Library has been described by officials as a cramped 768-square-foot building with no running water that opened in 1902. The town was forced to relinquish a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners when voters rejected a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion a decade ago.

Shutesbury’s grant selection came after officials completed an 85-page Library Building Program and did extensive consultation with the state’s library construction specialists, Stara and Andrea Bono-Bunker. A review team made up of four independent reviewers then examined the contents of the program submissions, ranking Shutesbury’s higher than that of Otis, a Berkshire County town that was also considered for the award.

The trustees and Library Director Mary Anne Antonellis conducted a space needs assessment prior to the selection of a designer, according to Cell. Should Shutesbury residents vote in favor of the library on May 21 and June 28, an architectural design firm will be chosen. Cell anticipates the design phase to last around a year, with groundbreaking commencing in nine to 12 months should everything run smoothly.

“If the stars align,” she said, the new library could be up and running in less than two and a half years.

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or jmendoza@recorder.com.


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