Library annex moving ahead


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

HATFIELD — After a proposal by Five Colleges Inc. to build a library annex in Hadley was rejected last year, the project is moving forward in Hatfield.

The 35,000-square-foot building will be constructed on a 12-acre parcel off Plain Road, adjacent to Interstate 91. The annex will house rarely circulating books from the Five Colleges – the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College and Smith College.

The project was approved by the Hatfield Planning Board earlier this year and work on the site began in May. Construction is expected to be completed in May 2017, according to the Five Colleges website.

The groundbreaking ceremony took place Thursday and was attended by Neal Abraham, Five Colleges executive director, college administrators and Hatfield town officials, according to Five Colleges spokesman Kevin Kennedy.

After four years of planning, consortium officials last year selected a site in Hadley between North Maple Street and Rocky Hill Road.

But a permit was denied by town planners, who argued that the proposed 74,000-square-foot building did not conform to zoning regulations and could not be considered an educational use. Such a use allows for zoning rules to be circumvented.

Five Colleges officials initially planned to appeal the Planning Board decision, but in April announced plans for a smaller project in Hatfield.

Chris Lindahl can be reached at clindahl@gazettenet.com.