Town initiates bid process for library renovations

  • North Amherst Library

Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 05, 2017

AMHERST — The town will solicit bids on preliminary designs for renovations to the North Amherst Library but doesn’t expect to hire the company until mid-February.

Despite the Select Board expressing concern about the warrant article brought by the Friends of the North Amherst Library seeking to add an accessible bathroom and elevator to the 1893 building, Town Meeting’s decision to appropriate $50,000 in free cash means Amherst officials are committed to moving forward with the project.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said last week that specifications are being drawn up and the procurement officer for the town and schools, Anthony Delaney, intends to get the bid package advertised as soon as possible.

“We anticipate it will be three to four weeks for advertising and getting responses back,” Bockelman said.

Advertising in the central register and other places will give adequate time for response. Then the town will likely need most of January to evaluate proposals.

“It’s public bidding and we have to comply with the law on that,” Bockelman said.

But officials also want to ensure that several designers get the chance to bid.

“This is an important project and we want to get a wider range of designers involved in it,” Bockelman said.

The $50,000 will cover the costs of feasibility research and designs, or at least rough schematics, Bockelman said. The Town Meeting article also asked for more substantial renovations to the building, including making all three floors usable by patrons, including the basement and attic.

Bockelman said questions include whether the town will need to hire an owner’s project manager, which is required for any project that would exceed $1.5 million, and whether the designs must meet the just-adopted zero-energy bylaw that mandates that substantial additions to municipal buildings produce as much energy as they use.

If additional design money is needed, Bockelman said it could be sought from the Joint Capital Planning Committee, an eight-member panel that has representatives from the Select Board, Finance Committee, trustees for the Jones Library and Amherst School Committee.

Advocates for the branch library have suggested that they would like to see a plan for library renovations brought forward by annual Town Meeting next spring.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.