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Anonymous donor pledges money for library renovation in Amherst

  • North Amherst Library FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

AMHERST — Making the North Amherst branch library handicapped accessible and adding public bathrooms to the building could be a feasible project in the coming months if an anonymous donor who has pledged money for the project provides the funding.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman said Tuesday that a resident who is not being publicly identified has offered the town money to renovate the 1893 building, requiring no municipal funding for the work.

Bockelman informed the Town Council in a memo this week that he has released money, previously approved by Town Meeting in November 2017, to hire Kuhn Riddle Architects to develop plans for the narrow scope of work.

Previously, the town hired Kuhn Riddle for $50,000 to develop more elaborate plans. The charge of the company this time would be to give the town cost estimates for what Bockelman describes as “the basic option.”

Last spring, the Joint Capital Planning Committee received two submissions from residents seeking town money to renovate the building, located at Montague and Sunderland roads, by summer 2020. But both of those plans, one for $800,000 and the other for $750,000, were not recommended by the committee and were pushed off until the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022.

Those plans also depended on the potential for private money to install a handicapped lift and handicapped-accessible bathrooms by July 1 next year, though they also sought to do more, including adding a community room to the building and demolishing a former service station, acquired by the town in 2016, which remains boarded up behind the library.

Should the anonymous donor be willing to provide enough money for the work, Bockelman said there no reason why such a project can’t move forward soon.

“If private money is being provided, it could be done quicker,” Bockelman said.

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