September Groundbreaking Planned To Build New Library Branch
Bids have been opened to build a new Massachusetts state-funded library branch in Springfield.
The apparent low bid for the East Forest Park Branch Library project is for $7.54 million from the Northampton-based general contractor D.A. Sullivan & Sons.
Springfield City Library Director Molly Fogarty said a September groundbreaking is planned for what will be the first new library building in Springfield since the 1990s.
" We are very excited and pleased with the bidding process and that we are on budget," Fogarty said.
Plans call for a state-of-the art modern library building four times the size of the current neighborhood branch library which is housed in a strip mall storefront. Despite the outdated cramped quarters, it is the second-most utilized library branch in the city.
A year ago, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners announced a $4.9 million grant for the project – one of only nine funded in the state last year. The city committed matching funds along with a $2 million capital campaign by the Springfield Library Foundation.
At 17,468 square feet, the new library will feature an open, accessible, light-filled design with space for media and book collections, quiet study rooms, a large community meeting room, a dedicated children’s area, 50 public computer terminals, and something called a “maker space lab.”
"It is available for all ages to create content," explained Forgarty. " It will have a 3D printer, a 3D scanner, a green wall, a sound booth. It is an emerging trend for libraries to provide space for people to create content."
The library will have an outdoor patio and 45 parking spaces.
A standalone library for East Forest Park is something the neighborhood has talked about for nearly 40 years, according to Fogarty, but it was the recovery planning following the 2011 tornado that provided the impetus for moving the library project off the back burner.
" It was four years to get from the beginning stages of planning and design to the actual groundbreaking," said Fogarty. " The community support has been great and we can't wait to open this new library."
By the time the groundbreaking occurs, the Promised Realized fundraising campaign for the new library expects to be halfway to the $2 million goal, according to Matt Blumenfeld of Principal Development Agency, the Amherst company hired to coordinate the campaign.
" We are doing pretty well," he said in an interview.
Most of the donations to the campaign so far have come from the business community led by a $250,000 contribution from the MassMutual Foundation. Now East Forest Park neighborhood residents are being encouraged to give through a five-year plan. The Springfield Library Foundation will match each pledge from people in the neighborhood up to a total of $250,000.
"This is really a fabulous community library project," said Blumenfeld. He said he had worked on at least 25 other library fundraising projects in Massachusetts and elsewhere.
Blumenfeld said there are many “naming” opportunities in the new library for people to donate and permanently recognize a loved one.
All donations are tax deductible.
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