Design Funds For Library Project Requested In Capital Plan

By: Ed Maroney

Topics: Snow Library

Snow Library.  FILE PHOTO

ORLEANS It's a numbers game for the Snow Library facilities advisory committee these days. Looking 20 years into the future, members are debating the number of square feet library users will need in meeting and reading rooms, how many study carrels for individuals versus open tables for cooperative work, and how many adult seats for parents and grandparents in the children's room. It's all part of creating a draft building program that will be submitted to the state in a request for a planning design grant for a new or renovated and expanded facility. The grant could cover 40 percent of the design work.

There's another number of interest: the amount the library will ask to include in the town's capital plan for the community's share of those design funds, probably in fiscal year 2022. After contacting Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners library building specialist Lauren Stara, Snow Library Director Tavi Prugno asked Town Administrator John Kelly to put $75,000 in the draft capital plan.

“I was never able to get a figure from either Lauren Stara or (architect) Stephen Hale,” Prugno told the facilities advisory committee at its Nov. 30 meeting. Committee chair Cheryl Bryan said that Stara had suggested a range, from which Bryan and Prugno derived the $75,000 figure. “We probably don't have one of the largest (requests),” Prugno said, “and we don't have one of the smallest.”

Selectmen Chairman Alan McClennen, his board's liaison to the committee, advised a careful review of the amount. “This number needs to be supported and understood by the finance committee, the board of selectmen, the library trustees and town meeting,” he said. “What's being used as the gross price of the library?”

“We won't know until we know the square footage,” Bryan replied. “Then it will depend on how much it will cost to build that square footage at that time. We can get from (the state) what square footage is costing for current projects. We'll use that range and multiply it by our square footage once we get our square footage.”

After telling the committee that “you're pushing for a project in a town that has done a lot of projects,” McClennen offered a compliment. “I believe you have done more detailed analysis on square foot analysis than has been done on any other project in recent years,” he said. He urged members to be prepared to have a “quick, concise answer” to explain their funding request for FY22 at this coming February's public hearing on the town's proposed capital plan.

“Don't be afraid to ask for $150,000,” McClennen said. “That might be the truth. Better to err on the upside than the downside.” In January Kelly will present the draft capital plan to the selectmen, who have 30 days to review it and send it to the finance committee. “If you do some additional work and want to refine that number, you let John Kelly know,” said McClennen. “You can do it leading up to the public hearing on the capital plan in February. In an out year, it's amended very easily.”

In an email exchange after the meeting, Bryan wrote that the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners is seeking funding for a new round of design development grants. “So we don't know when we will be asking the town for design development funding but estimate based on previous MBLC grant rounds that it will be in FY22,” she wrote. The next step would be a construction grant round, also not yet funded by the Legislature. Bryan noted that “Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham, Brewster, Mashpee and Falmouth have all built new libraries with previous MLBC Construction grants and our committee is preparing the Snow Library to participate” in that next round. “Both grants involve matching funding from the town and a number of key decisions so we are trying to start our discussions very early,” she wrote.

The committee will continue nailing down facts and figures for its proposed building program on Friday, Jan. 4, at 10 a.m. at the library.