Peggy Matthews-Nilsen: Suggests ‘greener path’ for Jones Library 

Thursday, August 31, 2017
Suggests ‘greener path’ for Jones Library

Jones Library Director Sharon Sharry has stated she will continue her policy of deferring basic maintenance of the library, except in case of “emergency repairs” while awaiting state funding for the library’s demolition-expansion project (“Jones director: Library project full-steam ahead,” Aug 11).

However, this state funding is expected to take several years or more to become available, and state grant funds are prohibited from being used for deferred maintenance.

It also remains to be seen whether Amherst Town Meeting will vote to approve the necessary borrowing for this extravagant, ungreen and unnecessary demolition-expansion project.

In any case, the peeling paint down to bare wood on the main entrance of the historic 1928 Jones Library will continue to deteriorate and provide no protection from the elements. The current dirty, disorganized condition of the interior of the library will also be allowed to go unaddressed while waiting.

Basic maintenance of the Jones Library cannot wait for a project that may never happen. There is an alternative. Amherst could use the list of needed repairs prepared by Western Builders Inc. and requested by library trustees, along with town revenue and other funding sources, to quickly address deferred maintenance and neglect at the Jones.

Furthermore, Amherst could use this list of repairs for a scaled-back approach to renovate and upgrade the Jones Library, which would cost less than a quarter of the $49 million expansion, avoid unnecessary demolition of a 24-year-old, Americans with Disability Act-compliant brick addition, and create a green, sustainable renovation that reflects the uniqueness of the Jones Library and preserves the Kinsey Memorial Garden.

If Amherst cannot afford basic maintenance of the current Jones, then it is clear we cannot afford this extravagant expansion project. It’s time for Amherst to reject the “let them eat cake” approach to our library and follow a greener path.

Peggy Matthews-Nilsen