Thursday, March 10, 2016

Jones Library Expansion Hurdles

Strong House to rear and west of Jones Library

It's been a bad week for the Amherst Historical Society, owner of the Strong House Museum adjacent to the Jones Library, and by extension a not so great week for the Library.

On Monday in a marathon 3.5 hour meeting the Community Preservation Act Committee failed to fund an $18,000 request from the Historical Society to fund needed legal work to "clear the deed" of the Strong House which came to them donated -- but with a do not disturb provision.

Without being able to legally break the will they would not be able to sell property at the rear and east of the Strong House for the Jones Library expansion.

Additionally,  at tonight's Trustees Meeting they learned from Jones Library Director Sharon Sharry the selling of the land would make the Strong House "non conforming" in the current R-G (residential) zoning.

Thus the Historical Society will now be requesting a zoning change at a Special Town Meeting to occur in the middle of the regular Spring Town Meeting to change the zoning to B-G (business).

This of course requires a two-thirds vote.

 Former long time Gazette/Bulletin house & gardens columnist Cheryl Wilson reads statement of concern about gardens

To make matters worse the first 25 minutes of the meeting was taken up by concerned members of the Amherst Garden Club and other patrons over the fate of the Kinsey Garden and the Strong House 18th Century Garden, which seem to sit in the way of the proposed expansion.

 Jones Library Trustees (President, Austin Sarat on right)

The Trustees did vote unanimously to allow Chair Austin Sarat to issue a statement of support for a zoning change after the Historical Society meets on Tuesday and issues their zoning change request to the Amherst Planning Board.

Furthermore the Trustees also unanimously supported a Memorandum Of Understanding with the Historical Society concerning the possible purchase of the property.

 Strong House front yard all the way to Amity Street not part of the sale


Anonymous said...

I challenge people to go hang in the garden. It's a clubhouse for homeless, drug dealers, drunkards and also used as a public bathroom.

Anonymous said...

We can"t use tax money on publicly owned property only private property. God, it's not a church you know, it's a public library!

Anonymous said...

If the Library must expand, use the exiting adjacent buildings (firehouse or former TDNorth bank bldg owned by BR).

Anonymous said...

Remind me not to leave a bequest to Amherst.

Anonymous said...

Is there a report available (somewhere) showing that Amherst residents WANT the Jones library to expand?

Scrooge McDuck said...

Good for CPAC for rejecting this. The library does not "need" to expand its building. It needs to purge its collection and use space more efficiently. The town cannot afford this wish-list item.

Anonymous said...

Someone was nice enough to leave a beautiful home to Amherst, and Amherst accepted the gift. Sorry, Jones Library, but the will specified the terms of that gift. Live with it.

Anonymous said...

Me...ME...ME all about Me!

Anonymous said...

Actually, the history museum has to live with it. It was their idea because their broke and can't maintain their operation without a cash infusion. To bad the CPA is giving $200K to the wealthy church down the street. The library has options:

1) renovate the interior
2) move administrative space offsite
3) move community spaces offsite
4) expand into the garden
5) expand over the driveway

or a combo of these

Dr. Ed said...

"I challenge people to go hang in the garden. It's a clubhouse for homeless, drug dealers, drunkards and also used as a public bathroom."

Where is the APD? Drug dealing seems at least as serious as college kids having a few beers in their backyards.

Larry Kelley said...

APD "moves them along" or arrests them almost daily.

They keep coming back.

Anonymous said...

Again...You know nothing...You don't live here...The only thing of yours here is that chip on your shoulder. You Need therapy.
Go bother your community...or better yet get a job.

Anonymous said...

the garden was safe (and clean) when i was a kid as were virtually all of uptown. it was also a pleasant experience for a young and unaccompanied kid to go uptown, more accommodating to family and townies then as well, but i could never picture raising a child in this town now. as for the historical building i'm frankly surprised it hasn't been razed yet as the collective culture of amherst only seems to care about history when "quaint" and "sleepy" and "new england" reap some cache in an otherwise increasingly generic town. amherst up into the 70s and even 80s was a nice place.

-bill r

Marcy Sala said...

That garden is a beautiful, quiet and shady oasis in the center of town. A good thing that deserves to be preserved. If the homeless spend time there, I would expect that their spirits would be lifted a bit just by being there. Another good thing, I remember when the buzz in town was all about developing Kendrick Park, while other public places of importance to people were degrading, even beyond the point of usefulness (as in War Memorial Pool). Julia Rueschemeyer, whom I don't know personally, changed the dynamic entirely by speaking truth, not necessarily to "power" but to "progress" at Town Meeting, by imploring us all to think more deeply about our collective assets and how they relate to our collective needs and how that equation might help us prioritize where our dollars should be spent. This is another occasion for that kind of reflection, I think.

Anonymous said...

You're that special kind of stupid, aren't you?

Anonymous said...

Ahh yes, the homeless in Amherst come to the garden to reflect…while chugging a Steel Reserve kinger and taking a dump…nothing quite as serene as the odor of human excrement and stale beer empties as I stroll amongst the flowers.

Ground Control to Major Tom….

Anonymous said...

Don't think about it, Marcy. (S)he says that to everyone.

Anonymous said...

No I don't, you have to earn it. And yes, she fits the criteria.

Anonymous said...

That garden behind the Jones Library is one of my favorite places to walk through in downtown. The Strong House and its yard and garden are beautiful and a historical artifact of our past. Few parts of downtown are as lovely. Maybe the library can look at the Lord Jeff renovation to see how to fit into and enhance the town.