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Hadley library project moves ahead, Amherst must wait

  • A new library will be built to replace the Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley.  Gazette File Photo

  • Schematic plans for the new library in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Schematic plans for the new library in Hadley. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Maria Konieczny and her mother Jo-Ann Konieczny, the trustee chairwoman for the Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley, announce the $3.9 million provisional construction grant the town was awarded to build a new library. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Maria Konieczny and her mother Jo-Ann Konieczny, the trustee chairwoman for the Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley, announce the $3.9 million provisional construction grant the town was awarded to build a new library. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Barry Deitz, of Bernardston, looks through the collection of books at Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley on Thursday, July 13, 2017.  —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • The Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley was awarded a $3.9 million provisional construction grant to build a new library. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Right, The Goodwin Memorial Library in Hadley was awarded a $3.9 million provisional construction grant to build a new library in the location where the senior center, on the left, now is. GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS

  • Schematic plans for the new library in Hadley. —GAZETTE STAFF/CAROL LOLLIS



Staff Writer
Thursday, July 20, 2017

HADLEY — With the award of a $3.9 million provisional construction grant July 13, Hadley is well on its way to replacing the Goodwin Memorial Library.

“This is a once-in-a-hundred-years opportunity for us,” said Jo-Ann Konieczny, chairwoman of the Hadley library trustees.

Hadley is one of nine communities awarded state money to build new libraries or renovate existing buildings. Amherst, meanwhile, is being placed on a waiting list for its project to expand the Jones Library.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners grant award will cover about half the cost of building Hadley’s new library.

Once the grant was announced, Konieczny, who was at the historic 1902 Goodwin Memorial building at the corner of Route 9 and Middle Street, began informing patrons about it.

“We just feel so excited for the town,” Konieczny said.

Konieczny said the new 11,800-square-foot library, designed by Johnson Roberts Associates Inc. of Somerville, will be built on the site of the former Hooker School building, which houses the Senior Center and will be demolished. Funding is already available to build a dedicated $5.3 million senior center in an open field behind the Hooker School.

Both new buildings, she said, will enhance the town.

“This will be part of the campus feel for the center of town,” Konieczny said.

A town meeting will be scheduled in August to appropriate the town’s match for the grant, which will be roughly half. Trustees have launched a capital campaign with a goal of $300,000, and have at least 300 contributors.

Designs for Hadley’s new library depict a community meeting room with kitchenette that is being named in memory of Kate Nugent, the late Hadley Select Board member who left $50,000 to the library.

Other aspects of the library include a children’s room and a young adult space, a staff work room and break rooms, a story garden, a business center, a room for the Friends of the Library and climate-controlled rooms for historic collections.

“We will have basic amenities that a normal, modern library has for staff and the public,” said Library Director Patrick Borezo.

There will also be space to expand the collection beyond the 20,000 items in the current 4,500-square-foot building, which has three floors but is largely inaccessible because the building has no elevator.

The new site will have 40 parking spaces, compared to eight next to the current building.

Borezo said he is proud of the community and those who have advocated for the library. The new building will maintain much of the historic feel of the Goodwin.

“We will work closely to preserve the spirit of the library,” Borezo said.

The precise timing for when the library will be built and opened is uncertain, but Borezo said he understands it needs to be coordinated with building the new home for the town’s elder population.

State Senate President Stan Rosenberg issued a statement saying he is pleased for Hadley.

“Libraries are the doors to the world, and ensuring access to a good public library is one of the cornerstones of building a great society,” Rosenberg said.

Jones Library

Meanwhile, the Jones Library in Amherst is ninth on the waiting list made up of 24 communities. This means the $13.87 million for the project to renovate and expand the 1928 building will be funded by the state in a future round.

Unlike in Hadley, the library project has generated considerable discussion, as the plans, developed by Finegold Alexander Architects of Boston, call for adding 17,000 square feet to the current 48,000-square-foot building by demolishing the 1993 addition and extending an addition toward the Kinsey Memorial Garden and the CVS Pharmacy parking lot at the rear.

The project has caused the creation of competing community groups, Jones Library for Everyone and Save Our Library, and been the subject of extended discussions at Town Meeting, such as whether to call on library trustees to preserve the Kinsey Memorial Garden in its entirety.

For those who have supported the project, including the full elected trustees board, being on the waiting list means the project has earned support from the state.

“The MBLC’s decision to authorize funding of the Amherst project is a terrific endorsement of the project and a great recognition of all the work that went into putting our proposal together,” trustees president Austin Sarat said in an email.

Trustees, he said, have pledged to continue working with the public.

“As we learn more about the timing we will be able to move forward in engaging the community in conversations about the future of our wonderful library system,” Sarat said.

“This is really good news for the Jones,” said Matthew Blumenfeld, a financial consultant assisting trustees. “We have received the largest grant award in the state and our application was thoroughly vetted by independent third-party reviewers.”

The projects were scored on a variety of factors, including the state of the building and socioeconomic needs, Blumenfeld said. Being ninth on the list means the Jones will have to wait for another year or two before receiving money, he said.

Library Director Sharon Sharry, who is on vacation, notified trustees and staff by email that the MBLC’s decision will give the town time to plan for this project, as well as other building projects that include a new elementary school, a Department of Public Works headquarters and a fire station for South Amherst.

But those who are against the type of expansion envisioned see the MBLC action as an opportunity to reset the project.

“This gives us a pause on the effort,” said Christina Platt, a member of the Save Our Library group who was in Needham for the library board’s meeting. “We see this as a real potential to have a more scaled-back, and more reasonable, project.”

Fellow Save Our Library member Sean Burke, an elected member of Town Meeting, said the decision will allow trustees to come up with a building project that is more environmentally sustainable and could be certified through the LEED program.

“We can avoid costly and destructive demolition and the disposal of 1,700 tons of construction debris by reusing the 1993 addition and underused space in the original building,” Burke said.

Other area communities on the waiting list include Greenfield, which would get $9.4 million; Erving, slated to receive $2.7 million; Orange, which would receive $5.2 million; and Deerfield, which would get $3.94 million.

Gov. Charlie Baker issued a statement that the library program shows support for investments in cities and towns.

“The commonwealth’s local public libraries provide individuals of all ages with invaluable resources that they otherwise might not be able to access,” Baker said.

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