West Springfield library gets the go-ahead

July 17, 2012 - In January 2011, LLB Architects prepared a feasibility study for the West Springfield Public Library in preparation for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners construction grant application. After reviewing several different site options, the town decided to further review the site of the Mittineague School, which was available at the time. The proposed design was a new construction building of 33,000 sf at an estimated $13.4 million. In July, the Board awarded eight communities with close to $27.5 million in General Construction Provisional Grants. Among them, was the West Springfield library, with the largest award sum of $6,276,143. The site of the Mittineague School is no longer an option for the library’s location and so we assisted the town in designing various options for the library to remain at its current location, produce a report, and present it to the MBLC for approval. On July 12, the project was re-approved.

The following is Sandra Constantine of The Republication on Masslive.com.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has voted unanimously to allow the city to switch the location of a library building project and keep the $6.3 million awarded for it last year.  The grant was awarded to help build a new library at the site of Mittineague School, but that site is not available. Local officials now want to rebuild or renovate the current West Springfield Public Library on Park Street. 

Sharon E. Scott, chairman of the West Springfield Library Board of Trustees, said Thursday that the state board voted 9-0 to the change. 

“We’re just all very happy,” Scott said of the contingent of local officials who journeyed to the state commission’s meeting in Boston Thursday. 

“West Springfield is going to get a new library, a much needed new library,” Scott said. 

The exact form that building project will take – and its cost – is still up in the air. One suggestion is to keep the building’s Carnegie wing and build an addition. 

“It really shows that when we work together we can get great things done,” said Mayor Gregory C. Neffinger, who made the trek to Boston. 

The mayor said the city’s consultant on the project had said earlier this year that it would be virtually impossible to persuade the state to allow the grant to be used at a different site. 

The library building project is important in the revitalization of the city’s downtown, Neffinger said. 

The project came to a standstill earlier this year when local officials learned the Mittineague site would not be available because the city had not gotten a state grant to build classroom space elsewhere to accommodate Mittineague students. 

Scott credited the strong community support, including petitions signed by people in favor of a building project, with helping sway the state library commissioners. 

“All the hard work and support throughout the town and the effort put forth and the support for the library project paid off. I think it’s a great day for West Springfield,” state Sen. James T. Welch, D-West Springfield, said. 

“The community rallied together to show the MBLC how we all believe in the benefits of having a 21st-century library, and our voices were heard by the board,” state Rep. Michael J. Finn, D-West Springfield, said in a prepared statement. 

Town Councilor Brian J. Griffin, who headed the city’s now-defunct New Library Ad Hoc Committee, said, “It shows when you work collectively and in the best interests of the town, great things can happen.” 

The cost of a new building on the site of Mittineague School had been estimated at $13.4 million. The Town Council authorized borrowing $7.1 million, a cost library trustees wanted to lower using proceeds from a local campaign to raise $2 million.