Jones Library: An iconic presence in the heart of downtown
The Jones Library Trustees met yesterday and spent about 25 minutes discussing whether the library could or should be used as a favorite fishing spot to bag signatures for town wide office -- especially that of Jones Library Trustee.
Although clearly a public space and therefor fair game, Trustee President Austin Sarat made a distinction between "norms vs. rights".
Most agreed that a sitting Trustee asking an employee they technically have power over for a signature on their nomination papers is a tad intrusive because the employee might feel "pressured" to sign.
Director Sharon Sharry pointed out the "gauntlet" that sets up in front of the Middle School Auditorium on the first few nights of Town Meeting with candidates in search of signatures, and she would prefer that not happen at the Jones Library two front entries.
Rookie Trustee Alex Lefebvre, appointed by a joint meeting of the Select Board and Trustees last month, said she doesn't like being approached by strangers when shopping at Stop & Shop to sign petitions or nomination papers.
The Trustees took no formal action but will send it to a sub committee for further study. In the audience was Terry Johnson a candidate for Library Trustee on the upcoming March 28 election who also applied for the temporary seat won by Alex Lefebvre who voiced strong support for the library expansion during the interview before Select Board and Library Trustees.
Ms. Johnson was not overly supportive of the expansion during the interview.
As such Ms. Lefebvre was appointed by the Trustees to their Building and Facilities Sub Committee and the Joint Capital Planning Committee.
Director Sharon Sharry also updated Trustees on the progress of the e-x-p-a-n-s-i-o-n telling them the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners had come back with required changes in the preliminary plans and all of them had been implemented.
The final Construction Grant Application is due January 26th and they hear back whether it will be funded on July 13th.
At the Spring Town Meeting starting in late April the Library will request permission to apply for and receive grant funds (if approved by the state) and at the Fall Town Meeting will request the amount of town money needed to go along with the state money and private fundraising efforts.
Current estimates for the Jones Library expansion/renovation is in the $32 million range with the state paying $15 million, private donations of $5 million, and a taxpayer Debt Exclusion Override of $12 million.
The Jones Library endowment now stands at $7.63 million and President Sarat brought up the idea of perhaps using more than the 4% draw to support the operation budget this coming fiscal year.