Mayor issues executive order restricting library use

  • A client checks out audio books at the Greenfield Public Library. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Greenfield Public Library on Main Street. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 8/23/2019 2:00:22 AM
Modified: 8/23/2019 2:00:10 AM

GREENFIELD — From now on, the library’s meeting rooms can’t be used when the building is closed, according to an executive order issued by Mayor William Martin on Thursday.

The executive order, which is effective immediately, states that “The library’s meeting rooms will be not be used for posted public meetings of the city’s governmental bodies, including boards and commissions. The Central Maintenance Director, in consultation with the Library Director, Building Inspector, Health Director, the Fire Chief, and the Chair of the Commission on Disability Access shall provide a report to the Mayor within 15 days on the steps needed to move forward regarding occupancy load, bathroom access, other building deficiencies and safety regulatory compliance.”

The reason for the restriction is because after closing, without staff present, there is only one door into the building, states the executive order.

“The city needs to study the occupancy of the Library Meeting Rooms for one egress … The Greenfield ADA Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan determined that the library was inaccessible for public meetings, and there are other options for meeting rooms in the city, including the John Zon Community Center.”

Martin told the City Council about the order at its meeting Wednesday.

He explained that 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 as well.

“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 to the council in a memo. “While we know that Central Maintenance has spent and plans to spend almost $200,000 in repairs, not all are qualified. However, it would not take much to trigger the requirement in the recommended updates for compliance.”

In an interview Thursday, Martin said it would be “highly unlikely” the city could avoid breaching the 30 percent threshold.

The June 2018 Greenfield ADA self-evaluation and transition plan estimate of $64,000 to make the library accessible was found to be incorrect, according to Massachusetts Office on Disability Assistant Director Jeffrey Dougan and Access Specialist Jakira Rogers.

“It does not appear as though the proposed cost estimate captures the entirety of the work that may be required under the ADA to meet the Title II obligations, along with additional work that may be required under our State Building Code for accessibility,” Dougan and Rogers wrote in a letter. “As discussed during the meeting, while the identified items within the transition plan, along with items we reviewed during the walk-through, capture the ADA-related obligations, we are unsure if the cost estimates provided within that document took into account the costs associated with the MAAB rules and regulations as well as collateral work that may need to be performed based upon those requirements. It is our opinion that the costs associated with the work to remedy these areas could be significantly higher than the generalized estimate provided within the plan.”

The estimated cost of the project would be roughly $8.4 to $8.8 million, according to Martin.

John Andrews, a member of the planning and construction committee, told the City Council about the building’s problems.

“The scope of work from the very lower level was astounding to me,” Andrews said. “As a carpenter, I would not want to invest in it. That’s my personal opinion, but that building is a problem. If there was a fire, the only way to get out of that building was for two to three strong guys to carry someone out of there. It’s a great historical site, but it’s not a good site for a library.”

City Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud said Wednesday that she would be willing to request a special council meeting.

“It seems as though councilors have a lot of questions about this. It’s a newer development, it’s a big issue and I would be happy to work with you on a special council meeting as much as I know folks would probably dread that,” Renaud said. “It seems it could be deserving of a special meeting to be called before the next regular meeting of the council so we can get more information, take a closer look at it and then have a more thorough discussion about it.”

The City Council approved construction of a new library in March. However, now it will be up to voters since the project will be on the November general election ballot following the successful submission of a citizen’s petition.

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or mbourdeau@recorder.com.




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