Shutesbury ready to launch construction of new library by hiring contractor

Shutesbury has hired a general contractor  to begin construction of this 4,400-square-foot public library at 66 Leverett Road.

Shutesbury has hired a general contractor to begin construction of this 4,400-square-foot public library at 66 Leverett Road. Oudens Ello Archiecture

Shutesbury is expected to hire a general contractor next week to begin construction of this 4,400-square-foot public library at 66 Leverett Road.

Shutesbury is expected to hire a general contractor next week to begin construction of this 4,400-square-foot public library at 66 Leverett Road. Oudens Ello Archiecture

The library will replace the M.N. Spear Library in the town center, which dates to 1902 and lacks running water.

The library will replace the M.N. Spear Library in the town center, which dates to 1902 and lacks running water. STAFF FILE PHOTO

By SCOTT MERZBACH

Staff Writer

Published: 06-20-2024 3:33 PM

SHUTESBURY — Construction of a new 4,400-square-foot public library at 66 Leverett Road is a go, with town officials awarding a contract for the project last week to general contractor Construction Dynamics Inc. of Clinton.

The company, the low bidder of five contractors at $6.39 million, was hired to handle the work after due diligence by owner’s project manager Construction Monitoring Service. The step means work will get underway on the new library about a dozen years after residents narrowly rejected a similar project.

While the bid was $236,000 higher than the $6.15 million general contractor bid estimates provided by Construction Monitoring Services, members of the Library Building Committee, chaired by Elaine Puleo, groundbreaking can take place soon and the new building can open next summer.

“This is an amazing time in the very long road to a new Shutesbury Library,” Puleo wrote in an email earlier this month. “I am thrilled beyond belief.”

The total project cost is around $8.98 million, when furnishings, site work and a public water source are included, with the building committee having $8.75 million in hand, meaning a shortfall of $232,326.

The Select Board, acting on an appeal from the building committee, voted to shave this shortfall by committing $60,840 in American Rescue Plan Act funding and an additional $50,623 earmark secured by Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Northampton, leaving a $120,863 gap.

But Puleo notes that $100,000 of this gap relates to landscaping, which can be made up through both in-kind labor and donations. In addition, she said the Friends of the Library will continue to raise money through community dinners, tag and bake sales, Library Giving Day and the 5K RoadTown Turkey Trot, and more grants will be sought from state and federal agencies.

“I am totally confident that we can raise the necessary money to complete this project,” Puleo said.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

High-speed police chase in Hadley ends in crash, arrest on Hampton Inn lawn
Working group to examine future of money-losing Cherry Hill Golf Course in Amherst
Note from the publisher: Amherst Bulletin distribution change
Turners Falls man charged after crashing into Deerfield house
A trip down memory lane: A memory of visiting the Leverett Sawmill, in honor of the town 250th anniversary
Cost-saving push for Jones project keeps library entrance but scraps other interior preservation

The process of getting to the new library began when Shutesbury, competing with the town of Otis as towns with populations under 2,000, was awarded a $3.95 million Small Library Pilot Project grant in 2022. Following that, $2.44 million in town spending was approved at Town Meeting and a Proposition 2½ debt-exclusion vote.

“After months of diligent work by the Select Board-appointed Library Building Committee, the library director and other town officials, we will break ground for our new library,” Kate Cell, president of the library trustees, said in a statement.

“It took the efforts of many people over many years to bring us to this point. The trustees thank first and foremost the people of Shutesbury, who put their faith in a new Small Library Pilot Project and approved a bond measure at the Town Meeting in 2022.”

Plans for the project, designed by Oudens Ello Architecture of Boston, show a single-story building with a peaked roof, with an adjacent driveway and parking.

It would replace the M.N. Spear Memorial Library, a cramped 768-square-foot building with no running water that opened in the town center in 1902. The new building will have adult and children’s rooms, space for teens, a public meeting room, a staff work room and a director’s office.

While voters rejected spending $1.4 million for a $3.5 million project in 2012, when the town was last on the cusp of getting a new library building, the process to getting to a new library has actually run for close to 30 years, with the discussion about replacing the Spear building originally starting in the mid-1990s.

Library Director Mary Anne Antonellis notes that in addition to a complete design and construction plan, much work on the library site has already been done, including delineating and protecting wetlands, and a new well has been dug, which shows, aside from radon expected in a deep well, no per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances or other health hazards.

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