Andy Churchill: Vote ‘Yes’ for Jones Library project

Thursday, September 30, 2021

I am writing to support voting “Yes” for the Jones Library project on Nov. 2.

The Jones is a central gathering point, a beloved cultural resource, and a force for upward mobility for low-income and immigrant residents of our town. But it is also a tired facility, too small and awkwardly designed to meet the needs of all its users, environmentally wasteful, and in need of approximately $15 million in repairs.

Thanks to a large state grant and private contributions, we Amherst taxpayers can pay roughly that same amount for a fully renovated and expanded library, with space to meet the needs of all its constituents (including children, teens, adult readers, English learners, job-seekers, researchers, artists, community groups and more) — plus an energy-efficient design to contribute significantly to our town’s climate goals.

The town manager has a prudent fiscal plan to meet all of Amherst’s major capital needs, and the state grant-subsidized Jones Library project is built into that plan. Voting “No” on this project would mean giving back $13.9 million to the state (where have we heard that before?) — and then paying the same amount to patch up the current library space that we would pay for the full renovation with all its additional benefits.

It’s going to cost the same either way. Let’s get more for our money.

As one resident told the Town Council about this project, “to refuse state funds in favor of a patchwork, piecemeal, and partial renovation makes no sense from a financial, environmental, educational, or social justice perspective.”

Please vote “Yes” on Nov. 2.

Andy Churchill