Thursday, March 24, 2016

Library Expansion Preliminary Cost

Jones Library 48,000 square feet about half of it original and historic

The Jones Library Design Subcommittee heard a presentation this morning from their architects Finegold Alexander about the preliminary -- and everybody was careful to accent "preliminary" -- plans for the expansion/renovation of the current 48,000 square foot facility that dominates the western part of downtown.

Jones Library Design Subcommittee (10 people were in the audience concerned about gardens in back where expansion will go)

The "dream vision" would have been 110,000 square feet (more than doubling in size) and cost $53.8 million, the cheapest alternative of renovation only for existing facility came to $20 million, and the "sweet spot" in between -- and highly favored design concept -- of a 65,000 square foot building came to $31.9 million.

 Wider purple to rear indicates expansion footprint if Strong House property involved

That concept (Option 2) does require the purchase of property from the Strong House History Museum next door, and that price does not reflect whatever that cost will be if Town Meeting approves a needed zoning change to allow the land deal.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, who suggested a 75,000 square foot target, will cover 41% of the eligible costs which the architects  calculated at $12 million, thus the town share comes to $19.7 million.

Earlier this week in a presentation to the Select Board, a new DPW facility concept  was unveiled at a "preliminary" cost of $37 million. 

And a couple months ago the Wildwood School Building Committee chose a "preliminary" design for a new elementary school that combines two schools in one for a total cost of $65 million, with town share coming to $30 million or so.

Nothing concrete concerning the new South Fire Station however, although it gets lots of lip service.

AFD Central Station, built 1929, is embarrassingly cramped

39 comments:

Anonymous said...

$53.8 million. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! That's a good one!

Anonymous said...

These people are insane.

Anonymous said...

Town Meeting will vote this down!

Anonymous said...

Can you provide an address for us to donate for this project? I am concerned if we do not fund raise the money through peaceful and voluntary means that the town will come and take it away from the people with force involuntarily just because of a petty committee vote and that would be a horror. They may even add this to the property taxes (owner's rent) and if someone cannot pay for the library, they could get kicked out of their home and then we would all have to walk around ashamed at the break down of society if we trade homes for a fancier library.

Anonymous said...

The library's board is completely disconnected from reality.

Anonymous said...

Will there even be books in the future?

Anonymous said...

This is truly insane. What are these people smoking.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Truly insane. One of the reasons for the expansion that was given at one time was, get this, to move the reference desk closer to the front.

Charlotte

Anonymous said...

The jones library is an economic development driver in the downtown that generates visitation to all of the downtown not only as a major icon of Amherst. Amherst is a knowledge based economy and the Jones gives a centering to that image. You can sit back and take your potshots but you're missing the vision.

Anonymous said...

I think anon 8:18 is missing the point that nobody is looking to close the library. It will still be whatever "driver" anon 8:18 imagines it to be.

Anonymous said...

If the Library really needs more archival space, it could build *underground* on the east side (beneath its driveway) and connect with the old fire station or the bank building (or both) for future "mixed-use" or "public/private" facilities. Town Meeting will not approve the zoning (nor the funding) - here's one thing we can be proud that Town Meeting will do right!

Anonymous said...

Would it be ok to simply wait until the actual case has been presented for the project and then listen to it, before making any anonymous snap judgements? No one's asking you to decide anything right now. And certainly no one's asking you to say anything brave that you'd actually have to put your name on.

And, yes, Anon 8:18 p.m. is right. If you want economic development downtown, a library helps with that.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

No evidence has ever been presented that even one additional person will visit the expanded library. The library is overwhelming a service for our small town, it's not a regional draw, and our town population is not growing.

Anonymous said...

Larry, your post reads that they can't build the 65,000 sq. ft library without the Strong House land. Option one showed they could; it would just be a different footprint and take up more backyard space.

Larry Kelley said...

Actually my post does not say that.

Option 2, which is the by far preferred option, requires the purchase of the Stong House land.

If Town Meeting votes down the zoning change for the property then they will be forced to use Option 1, which clearly, at the moment, they do not wish to do.

And then yes, a 65,000 sq. ft facility could still be constructed stretching twice as far to the rear as Option 2 and looking kind of funky from an architectural standpoint.

Larry Kelley said...

Anon 7:36 AM

Actually the Jones Library is a "regional" draw, or what they like to call "community hub library".

In FY15 35% of their circulation was to non-residents while state average is only 16.4%.

And whenever a public library expands or is renovated with MBLC money, their circulation figures go up exponentially no matter what happens (or doesn't happen) with the population of their town/city.

Anonymous said...

So are these these non-residents paying anything into the cost of building this very expensive, budget-busting addition? How about their towns contribute? Since that's not going to happen, they are irrelevant. All it means is that Amherst taxpayers will be picking up their share too.

Larry Kelley said...

They are kind of picking up some of the costs since the MBLC is state money.

Anonymous said...

They're not kind of picking up some of the costs, but nice try. The only costs that are relevant are the cost that Amherst taxpayers pay, and since the Amherst taxpayers also have a match, you can't count the money twice. They are only matching the amount the Amherst taxpayers pay.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand where all the fiscal responsibility has gone? What happened to the never ending complaints about how high are taxes are? Now we are facing at least $125 million in additional spending. This will all be spending that Amherst taxpayers will have added to their property taxes every quarter for 30 years! And if you think there won't be additional override votes in that 30 years for school budgets, etc. you are kidding yourselves.

People, wake up! This is outrageous!

Larry Kelley said...

Depends on how you define "some" I guess.

Anonymous said...

Well, to say that they are also paying some of the costs is silly, because we all pay state taxes and that that means we also pay towards projects in every city and town, so we we are paying for projects in their towns too. The reality is this is going to cost Amherst taxpayers a lot of money. You can dress this pig up any way you want, but it's still a pig.

Anonymous said...

It is important to remember that Amherst would be borrowing the stated amounts.
Actual costs to tax payers over 30 years will nearly double when interest is included.

Anonymous said...

Go ahead and support this and the new DPW palace, but don't go crying that we need more firefighters, EMTs, and police. You just spent that money for the next three decades. And remember that everything you build needs upkeep and maintenance.

Larry Kelley said...

True I suppose.

But MBLC money can only go towards a library. And those "outsiders" do pay into that via routine taxation.

But if it makes you feel any better: I'm not supporting any of the three building projects (DPW, Wildwood Elementary School or Library) until I see some real action on the new South Fire Station we've talked about for 50 years.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the aerial photo, which shows that the Jones Library is already huge. Perhaps what they really need is a consultant to show them how to use the space more efficiently? They've got a lot of dead space.

Sarah McKee said...

The Jones Library has real needs. It also has a lot of unused and underused space.

Needs include bringing Information Services (i.e., Reference) closer to the adult checkout, for better service to patrons & more efficient coordination of staff. Putting the IT expert by the public computers would give users better tech help.

The Children’s Library needs an office; all books on one floor (children’s biography and foreign language books are now upstairs – hard to supervise); a children’s bathroom; baby changing facilities.

The heating and cooling system is inefficient and erratic. E.g., librarians must wear their coats in winter while sorting our thousands of interlibrary loans: the intake room is freezing. Part of the electrical system dates from the 1960s.

Special Collections – the Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Robert Francis, Julius Lester, and other sources that bring visitors from all over the world, as well as wonderful local history collections – desperately need additional space to process the constant acquisitions & for climate-controlled archival storage.

A dedicated teen room? Yes! In libraries that have them, kids flock to them. Now our kids flock after school to the aisles of the basement biography section. When I was a trustee, I sometimes patrolled there to try to keep it down to a dull roar.

At the same time, if the lobby elevator complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act, it would open up 2nd and 3rd floor space for the public that is now unused or used for cataloging. Staff report more demand for meeting rooms of various sizes than the Library can accommodate.

More space for books? The large, high, 1st floor room with the mysteries, Westerns, sci fi, and Large Print books used to have a floor above it for books. Why not again?

The Atrium’s glass roof leaks. It always will. Water has nowhere to go. The Town must reseal the roof every few years, at a cost of $45K plus. Why not build one, or even two, stories within the Atrium space, perhaps with a (non-leaking) skylight?

The idea of underground construction makes sense, as well. Now is when to coordinate the Library with the rest of the new, downtown cultural district.

More usable space will doubtless mean more staff, & an increased annual budget. So -- can the Library use existing staff better? Perhaps. E.g., automated instead of manual cataloguing would free up 2 of 4 full-time equivalent positions.

Providing what the Library needs for our next quarter-century, while preserving its existing footprint and Amity Street’s historic character, should be feasible.

I trust Town Meeting to meet our Library’s real needs. I trust it to meet residents’ real needs for real estate taxes that don’t go through the roof.

So I urge that we vote, this Tuesday, to reject the Charter Commission – NO on 1 -- to guarantee that Town Meeting will be there to do the job.

Larry Kelley said...

Forbes Library in Northampton seems to do okay under a Mayor/Council government.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about the library and the many "needs" that it has. Has anyone ever been to the Central fire station? There are so many issues with it because it is so old and used that it amazing that the firefighters are allowed to live there...not that anyone cares about them in this town. If you ask them they will show you the mold and how the roof and walls are falling in on them. Yet, people are so focused on a library...BS.

Anonymous said...

We've got to get on the stick and start lobbying for a new fire station. This library project is just a candy store wish list. A fire station is about public safety.

Anonymous said...

We have been talking about the need for a new fire station for the forty years I have been a Town Meeting member ...from just about the time the E.pleasant st.station was built. A south Amherst fire station is my highest priority! Closely followed by replacing two schools as I now have grand children attending Amherst schools.. The classrooms at Fort River are execrable! Noisy, crowded from false partitions . I fail to understand why the superintendent has leased ARMS. space to GCC without consideration of our failing elementary schools.

The Jones Hilton will just have to wait in line... Deferred maintenance, elevator to second and third floors will open up currently accessible space as the former Chair of Jones Trustees says ON THE EXISTING FOOTPRINT?

And I sure pray that the new manager won't lobby so vigorously as our two most recent ones.

Anonymous said...

So you have been a town meeting for 40 years and have yet to submit a proposal for a fire station? You should probably resign

Anonymous said...

Hi all:
I checked, and mayor/council communities have:
1. State of the art public libraries
2. Public pools
3. Reduced fee swim lessons
4. Bike lanes
5. Rental permitting systems
6. Inclusionary zoning
Its turns out, that maybe we don't need 240 legislators to make those decisions.

Anonymous said...

They also have rampant corruption. The mayors of Chicopee and Providence went to prison, as have many others.

Larry Kelley said...

Northampton seems to do just fine.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Musante learned a whole lot from his father. He ran this Town as if he were an elected Mayor!!

Anonymous said...

I would rather have an occasional mayor go jail, than having the Greenbaums+friends hogging Town Meeting (and suing the town) in order to protect their properties.

At least with mayor/council we know what the ethical and legal rules are.

Dr. Ed said...

It will never happen but what Amherst needs is a young adult facility for 14-20 year olds, including both the HS and UM kids. The HS kids so badly want to be considered "adults" and the UM kids will actually *act* like adults in the presence of the HS kids. 90% of the problems you have in town are these two groups with nothing (constructive) to do & no where to go to do it.

Just sayin....

Anonymous said...

Gee Ed, they tried that 40 yrs ago. Guess what it didn't work then, but it was a great place to score drugs and get 18 yr olds to buy you booze. Hey let's dour again and see what happens. You are an idiot Ed!