Published: 01/05/2022 17:27:07
Modified: 01/05/2022 17:25:35
SHUTESBURY – Library trustees and friends of the MN Spear Memorial Library celebrated the success of the Small Town Library Pilot Project grant with a meet and greet, book giveaway, goods sale and a site visit Sunday afternoon as residents rejoiced at the prospect of a new library.
The celebration, which began at 2 p.m. at the 66 Leverett Road Lot 0-32 location of the future 22-acre library, provided a glimpse of what has been made possible by receiving a grant that will fund 75 % of eligible costs associated with the construction of the building. The $5 million state grant is in addition to the $562,000 that has already been raised privately and publicly. Voters at the May 21 annual town meeting will be asked to accept the grant, as well as approve the placement of a priority question on the June 28 town ballot that would allow Shutesbury to use a loan to finance the remaining construction expenses.
MN Spear Memorial Library trustee co-chair Kate Cell said the state’s decision to provide funding to Shutesbury was cause for great celebration, acknowledging that the small town of fewer than 1,800 people typically misses of financial power.
“It’s a big problem!” she says. “The state will pay 75% of the cost of this library. That’s a lot of money.”
Cell added that the celebration, which included a walking tour of the plot with preliminary delineations of room locations and other features, provided valuable information to the community.
“I also wanted to give people a chance to see what they’ll be voting on in a few weeks,” she said.
Trustees and friends particularly noted the versatility of the conceptualized 5,490 square foot library in relation to varying age demographics. While leading a resident on a tour of the site, Cell highlighted the idea of having a bedroom that caters to teenagers.
“There’s really no place for them to congregate,” she said, “so that’s something we’re really passionate about.”
Elaine Puleo, a member of the Friends of the MN Spear Memorial Library, said she was delighted with how seniors will benefit from a circuit breaker tax credit that allows income-eligible seniors a credit for 50% tax, the first time the library supports such a system.
“Older people who are going to get the most out of the library can say, ‘I don’t have to pay for this! ‘” Puleo said.
The current M. N. Spear Memorial Library was described by officials as a cramped 768 square foot building with no running water that opened in 1902. The city was forced to forfeit a grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners when the voters rejected a 2½ proposal. the exclusion of debt ten years ago.
Shutesbury’s grant selection came after officials completed an 85-page library building program and conducted extensive consultation with state library building specialists Stara and Andrea Bono-Bunker. A review team of four independent reviewers then reviewed the content of the program submissions, ranking Shutesbury higher than that of Otis, a Berkshire town that was also considered for the award.
Library trustees and director Mary Anne Antonellis conducted a space needs assessment before selecting a designer, according to Cell. If Shutesbury residents vote in favor of the library on May 21 and June 28, an architectural design firm will be chosen. Cell expects the design phase to last about a year, with a groundbreaking start in nine to 12 months if all goes well.
“If the stars align,” she said, the new library could be up and running in less than two and a half years.
Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or [email protected]