Report pegs Jones Library renovation costs at $8M

  • Jones Library JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Thursday, May 04, 2017

AMHERST — Renovations to the Jones Library building, including repairs needed to meet current building codes and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, would cost in excess of $8 million, according to a 29-page report from Western Builders of Granby.

The deferred maintenance report, provided to Library Director Sharon Sharry on Monday, will be discussed by library trustees at their meeting Thursday, which begins at 9:05 a.m. in the Goodwin Room at the 43 Amity St. building.

The report comes in advance of the May 10 session of annual Town Meeting, when members will be asked to approve the building program for a potential $35.6 million project to renovate and expand the building, which opened in 1928 and had an addition built in 1993. The new program would create a 65,000-square-foot building that would add 17,000 square feet to the existing building.

Endorsement of the building program would allow trustees to move forward in seeking Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners funding. The Jones is one of 33 libraries competing for the state money, with five to eight communities invited to go through the process in the first year.

Western Builders’ report shows that 13 capital repairs — including replacing the skylight in the atrium and an elevator near the main entrance, interior and exterior improvements, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing upgrades — would run between $8.1 million and $9.6 million, with the higher cost assuming that library operations would continue on site, necessitating phasing of the work.

If the library gets a state construction grant, the project would come back to the town for around $15 million, with municipal spending on the project up for a vote at the annual Town Meeting in 2018, at the earliest.

Based on the report from Western Builders, which was commissioned in February, the most expensive improvements would be the $3.7 million in mechanical, electrical and plumbing work that would take six months to complete. Interior improvements, such as new carpeting and painting, would cost $2.5 million, over four months, and exterior improvements would be $1.6 million, over 26 weeks.

Replacing the skylight would take 10 weeks at a $567,517 cost, and replacing the south elevator would run $790,105 and 14 weeks.

But the report cautions that cost projections, based on construction work starting in May 2018, may be low. If project costs exceed 30 percent of assessed property value over a three-year period, this would trigger full-scale ADA compliance, which adds significant costs, such as providing wider stacks to accommodate wheelchairs.

Meanwhile, the report also dismisses the possibility of adding a second floor above the atrium to gain space.

“Along with the significant existing exterior architectural roof and facade renovations work that would be required, expansive interior architectural alterations would also be required for access for the new structural work. In summary, the cost of adding this small amount of building floor area would be prohibitively expensive.”

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