Martha Spiegelman: A ‘No’ vote is a smart move

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Voting “No” on Nov. 2 is how to start over smart, by rejecting the Jones Library building project which raises so many unexamined problems and unanswered questions.

Numbers are important. One significant problem, in our troubled climate emergency, is destruction of the entire 1993 addition of 17,800 square feet, out of the present total library area of 48,000 square feet. It amounts to 3,320,000 pounds of debris hauled away in about 400 truck trips to a landfill (where?) at a cost not yet added to the $36.3 million price tag. “The greenest building is the one that is already built.” (Carl Elefante, sustainability architect )

Writers supporting the Jones project acclaim the “expansion and renovation,” but never note this destruction of almost 40 % of the building. Of the 35,800 square feet of planned construction, half is therefore replacement, and the other half is the only true expansion.

When the costly addition was completed in 1993, civic leadership expressed deep admiration. Apparently, what was yesterday’s gleaming gem is today’s worthless glass shard. Twenty-five years hence will another band of planners, trustees, architects, developers, and consultants inform the community that the library is just not good enough, so it’s time to get out the wrecking ball again?

Will the claim of 2021 by a project architect be repeated: that about 25 years is an average life-span? Well then, it’s way past time to pull down Chartres Cathedral, the Alhambra, the Great Wall, the Pantheon, the Sphinx, New York Public Library, etc.

Instead of this destructive project, library supporters wish to see the Jones Library system and the town put substantial funds into enhanced services at the two branches, wage raises and full benefits for all employees, hiring of more staff, mobile and mini-libraries in neighborhoods, increased open hours, revised space use, maintenance and efficiencies, renovation, green energy upgrades, and, yes, expansion — without destroying structure, grounds, and the charming, refreshing Kinsey Memorial Gardens.

All this can happen if we start over smart by voting “No” on Nov. 2.

Martha Spiegelman