Jones Library renovation and expansion grant

April 25, 2017:- Article 23 on the Town Meeting warrant seeks approval for a renovation and expansion project for the Jones Library and authority for the board of trustees to apply for a Massachusetts Public Library Construction Grant.  Last week I enjoyed a guided tour of the Jones Library and reviewed the preliminary designs for the proposed renovation and expansion.  I also read the brochure from a group called Save Our Library, which opposes the proposal, and looked at their website.

At the end of the library tour I was convinced of the need for significant renovation along the lines set forth in the preliminary designs. Particularly compelling for me was the need for clear lines of sight so that staff and parents can keep an eye on the children, a challenge that has troubled me since we started visiting the Jones way back when our eldest (now 21) was a wee toddler. The current arrangement presents real safety concerns, which the renovation would remedy.

Nothing in the opponents’ material persuaded me to change my mind; quite the contrary, in fact. Reasonable people can and do differ over these things, and I was open to persuasion, but the Save Our Library group goes overboard, so much so that it discredits whatever valid points the plan’s opponents may have. For example, the brochure ends with this pronouncement: “It takes energy to construct a new building. It saves energy to preserve an old one.”

Well, yes and no. Sometimes it takes more energy to keep using an older building than it would take to build and maintain a new one. Right now the Jones houses some fragile documents in a climate-controlled room. But the room does not have a door because of fire-code issues. Consequently much of the energy expended in the attempt to control the climate in that room is wasted. Preserving that arrangement does not save energy.

Similarly, their contention that the plan, which they characterize as the “Demolition-Expansion Plan” and a “generic cookie-cutter design” would “essentially pave paradise and put up a parking lot” greatly overstates their case.  I have no doubt that the townspeople who joined together to form Save Our Library have the interests of the community at heart and I commend their devotion to the cause. But they are in danger of giving hyperbole a bad name.

I intend to vote in favor of article 23.

If you would like to know where I stand on some of the other articles on the Town Meeting warrant, please click here.  As always, I welcome your questions and comments.

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