Library moves up on state funding list

Aug 8, 2019 by

Published August 7, 2019

By DAN TOMASELLO

LYNNFIELD — The proposed new Lynnfield Public Library has moved up to number 12 on the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners’ waiting list for library construction projects.

In an interview with the Villager, Library Building Committee Chairman Russell Boekenkroeger said the town moved up two spots on the list after state grant funds were recently released to Littleton and Sharon for those communities’ respective library projects. Lynnfield was 14th on the list at the beginning of the year.

“(Littleton and Sharon) now must obtain Town Meeting approval for their total project costs and ballot box approval for the debt financing required within the next six to nine months,” said Boekenkroeger.

Boekenkroeger said the proposed new library has an estimated cost of $21 million.

“When Lynnfield submitted its grant application in January 2017, total project costs through 2020 were estimated to be $21 million, with an MBLC grant of $8 million and local funding of $13 million,” said Boekenkroeger. “When grant monies are released by the MBLC after towns have obtained their approvals, designs and costs need to be reconsidered and finalized to reflect current conditions, material costs and etc. The longer Lynnfield waits to begin, the more expensive the project will be. The grant will be the fixed amount accepted by the MBLC two years ago.”

Boekenkroeger said that, “The reimbursement rate set by the MBLC is 20 percent of the grant monies per year from approvals being in place for the town and an agreement signed by the town and the MBLC.”

“The first year is paid up front,” said Boekenkroeger. “The project costs and grant monies are based on estimates stated in 2020 dollars. The grant monies that Lynnfield can be provided are a fixed amount, regardless of the actual project cost. There are state guidelines that must be met when the design is finalized and costs will be updated when grant monies are made available. The longer it takes for Lynnfield to begin the project or for MBLC monies to be made available to Lynnfield, the more expensive the undertaking will be.”

Boekenkroeger said the project recently hit a bump in the road in regards to state funding. The Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) is scheduled to receive $100 million as part of a bond bill for fiscal year 2020, which is less than the $250 million requested by the MBLC.

“Presently, there are not sufficient bond monies available to fund some towns on the waiting list including Lynnfield,” said Boekenkroeger. “We will be actively working with other towns, the MBLC and our legislative representatives to have the monies made available. As a result of the situation, the speed of undertaking library projects has been dramatically slowed down. The manner in which the state has chosen to proceed with funding limits the building and construction program to those already approved. Monies are not available for towns to have new projects considered.”

While MBLC Director James Lonergan thanked the Baker-Polito administration and the legislature for supporting for the MPLCP, he said in a statement the commissioners are looking forward to “working with the Executive Office of Administration and Finance to better align the MPLCP with the commonwealth’s capital budget plan and to shorten the time a community waits for funding.”

MBLC Communications Director Celeste Bruno agreed.

“The funding shortfalls affect the MPLCP in several ways,” Bruno stated in a press release. “There are currently 42 public libraries interested in a future construction grant round, but without an additional bond authorization, the MBLC will not be able to offer one. The $100 million bond authorization is also insufficient to completely fund all waitlisted projects. Additionally, waitlisted projects are affected by the failure to raise the annual capital budget. At its current level of $20 million, the last project on the waitlist will be funded in 2028, completed in 2033. Communities can expect to pay millions more for their projects due to the increased construction costs that come with waiting several years for the state funding needed to start projects.”

Boekenkroeger recalled that the 2016 October Town Meeting approved transferring control of a 3.424-acre parcel of land located on the front of the Reedy Meadow Golf Course as part of the project. He said the land will be the new library’s home if townspeople approve the project.

Newburyport-based Design Technique, Inc. is serving as the owner’s project manager for the library project.

“DTI has undertaken over 25 library projects, mostly in Massachusetts,” said Boekenkroeger. “They recently completed Woburn and Sherborn, and will be taking Sharon forward.”

Boekenkroeger said Boston-based William Rawn Associates is the architectural firm working on the project.

“Rawn is an award-winning firm,” said Boekenkroeger. “Its library work includes the Johnson Building renovation in Boston and the East Boston and Mattapan Branch Libraries. The firm has also renovated the Cambridge Library and the Linde Center expansion adjacent to Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall in Lenox.”

Once the state releases the grant funds to the town, Boekenkroeger said library officials will be holding meetings in order to get input from the public while the new library’s design and costs are finalized.

“At that future time, changes may or may not be considered based on our process,” said Boekenkroeger.

Related Posts

Tags

Share This