DATE: July 12, 2012
West Springfield Granted Site Change
At its July Board Meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) unanimously voted to grant the community of West Springfield the site change it needed to move ahead with its public library construction project. Board approval of the site change was needed to maintain the $6.2 million Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program (MPLCP) grant from the Commission.
The project originally located the library at the Mittineague School site. Students from the school were to be accommodated in a renovated Tatham School building making way for the proposed public library. The Tatham renovation has been indefinitely delayed by the town’s successful application to the Massachusetts School Building Assistance program for a model high school grant. The library will now remain at its current location and will be renovated and expanded.
Representatives from West Springfield, including Library Trustee Chair Sharon Scott and West Springfield Mayor Gregory Neffinger appeared before the Board in June to request the site change. During her presentation Ms Scott discussed the community’s need for a new library and the tremendous local support for the project. “We would not have submitted an application that located the library on the Mittineague site had we not received assurances that it would be available,” she said referring to the application that the town submitted to the MBLC in January, 2011. That application, along with ones from twenty eight other communities went through a rigorous evaluation process that ended with eight projects receiving provisional grant awards from the Board in July 2011.
Commissioners Mary Ann Cluggish and Greg Shesko worked with MBLC staff to examine options. “West Springfield’s request presented us with a challenge. It’s the first time in 25 years that the Board has been asked to approve a move to a completely new location. In the end we felt that our construction regulations allowed for such a change to occur, “said Commissioner Shesko.
In voting to approve the site change Commissioners referred to MPLCP regulations which allow them to grant site changes to communities due to “circumstances unforeseen and beyond the control of the applicant.” Library Trustee Chair Sharon Scott and State Senator Welch were among the many West Springfield supporters who attended the meeting and were pleased with the Board’s decision. “Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the groundbreaking,“ said Ms Scott.
MPLCP was first funded by a state bond authorization in 1987. Since then, hundreds of communities across the Commonwealth have used state-grant funding to build libraries that meet the growing demand for library services and technology. Of the eight grants awarded in July 2011, six projects secured local match funding and are moving forward: Athol, Everett, Granby, South Hadley, West Springfield and West Tisbury. Grafton and Shutesbury were unable to accept their provisional grant awards. Nineteen other communities are currently on a Waiting List for funding. Click here for more information about the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program.
The Board of Library Commissioners (mass.gov/mblc) is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.