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Lynnfield library must wait

FILE PHOTO BY PAULA MULLER
Holly Mercer, Library Director, and Kevin Bergeron, architect for William Rawn Associates of Boston, explain a model of Lynnfield to attendees before Town Meeting in 2016.

BY ADAM SWIFT

LYNNFIELD — There was no surprise present for the library’s 125th birthday.

This week, the state’s board of library commissioners voted to put the library on a waitlist for a provisional construction grant. While there will be no immediate funding for a proposed new 25,000-square-foot building at Reedy Meadow, Library Director Holly Mercer said the town is still on schedule for the project.

“Lynnfield residents support the library and are using it more than ever,” said Mercer. “Our grant status is consistent with our request to receive funding in a few years, in order to be in line with the capital timeline and financial plan of the town. We are excited about the future of the library.”

Thirty-three libraries completed the grant round process. After a review, nine libraries were identified to receive grants and 24 were placed on a waitlist. Waitlisted libraries will receive construction grants as the funding becomes available either through the existing bond bill or a future bond authorization.

“The towns that are on the provisional list have six months to secure funding, and if they are unable to do so, the state will modify the list,” said the library director.

If the communities secure local funding, the state will pay 40 to 60 percent of the building costs, depending on need. Mercer said Lynnfield would likely take home 40 percent reimbursement for the new library.

The ball got rolling on a new building in Lynnfield in 2014, when the library’s board of trustees applied for a planning and design grant from the state. Those preliminary plans call for a new building on a portion of the Reedy Meadow golf course property that would address the library’s space and programming needs.

The 25,874 square feet would include abundant parking, meeting and program spaces, expanded youth services and additional patron seating, according to the library director. She said the space has been created with the user in mind, with flexible and adaptive spaces taking advantage of the scenic golf course view designed to inspire, stimulate creativity, encourage collaboration and communication, as well as reflect both the goals and values of the community.

The current building is just under 15,000 square feet and has 12 dedicated parking spaces.

As library officials wait to see how soon funding comes through, Mercer said they will continue to focus on expanding services at the current building and celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Lynnfield Public Library this month.

While Selectman Richard Dalton said last year that construction of the new building could cost around $10 million, it’s still early in the process to determine the final funding needed for the project.

Funding for the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) is authorized by the governor and the legislature. Funding for the latest grant round was part of the general governmental needs bond bill filed in March, 2013 which included $150 million for the MPLCP. This funding was also used to award construction grants to 11 communities that had been on a waitlist for several years and will be used to support a future Planning and Design grant round.

“The Commonwealth’s local public libraries provide individuals of all ages with invaluable resources that they otherwise might not be able to access,” Governor Charlie Baker stated in a press release. “Our administration is pleased to once again support this important grant program that invests in cities and towns across the Commonwealth.”

MPLCP library building projects are currently underway in Hopkinton, Leicester, Scituate, Sherborn, Stoughton, and Woburn. Communities with recently completed projects include Eastham, Edgartown, Framingham, Reading, Shrewsbury, and West Springfield.

An 8,000-square-foot addition and renovations to the Reading Public Library was completed in 2015 at a cost of just under $15 million, with the state covering a little more than $5 million of the project.

 

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