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Moving on up: $35.6 million Jones Library project now second on statewide waiting list  

  • Jones Library. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO



Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 07, 2019

AMHERST — A $35.6 million renovation and expansion planned for the Jones Library is now second on the statewide waiting list for library projects.

The project, in line for $13.87 million in funding, moved up two spots when the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in July awarded provisional funding for a $7.49 million project in Sharon and a $5.84 million in Littleton.

Library Director Sharon Sharry said Amherst is in a position to have its funding released next July, though that will depend on whether another round in the latest grant cycle occurs and there is sufficient money.

“We are moving along assuming a July 2020 date, just to be on the safe side,” Sharry said.

But there is a possibility the grant will not be released until 2021.

The plans at the Jones call for adding 17,000 square feet to the 48,000-square-foot building. The library project is one of several buildings the town is planning to renovate or rebuild in the coming years, including the Department of Public Works headquarters, a new elementary school and a new fire station in South Amherst. 

In July 2017, the latest Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program round began, and the MBLC awarded nine communities provisional construction grants, including a $3.91 million grant to Hadley. At that time, Amherst was among 24 communities placed on a waiting list that would be narrowed as funding became available.

Since then, both Greenfield, for $9.39 million, and Erving, for $2.72 million, have also been awarded provisional grants, while other communities in the region remain on the waiting list, including Deerfield at fifth, with $3.94 million for the Tilton Library, and Orange at 10th, with $5.22 million for the Wheeler Memorial Library.

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