SHUTESBURY – Voters in Shutesbury are being asked to take the next step in building a new library by approving a waiver of the $1.17 million Proposition 2½ debt exclusion at the assembly annual municipal meeting on Saturday.
The city’s share of the money needed to build a 5,490 square foot library, pegged at a cost of $6.4 million, is one of 47 items that will be picked up from 9 a.m. on the ground. behind the town hall.
The mandate includes a series of additional expenditures, including a municipal budget of $6.7 million for fiscal year 2023, or $72,139, or 11% more than this year’s budget of $6.63 million; and the transfer of $60,000 in free cash to cover design and engineering costs to replace the asphalt portion of the roof at Shutesbury Elementary School. Last year, Town Meeting allocated $254,100 to repair the school’s gymnasium roof.
The waiver, which will require the support of a two-thirds majority in the city assembly before going to voters for a ballot on June 28, comes a decade after residents failed to give enough support to a project previous.
Shutesbury has been selected for the statewide small library pilot, which means the city will only have to cover a quarter of eligible costs, and all ineligible costs, which, combined, should amount to $2.44 million. The rest of the local money will come from other identified sources, including cash on hand and stabilization accounts, the library’s capital construction fund, and the library’s donation fund.
A letter from the trustees of the MN Spear Memorial Library, which has been in operation for 120 years, explains the need for a new facility: “After decades of deliberation, discussion and debate, Shutesbury has the wonderful opportunity to build the library it needs and deserves a one-time state grant for libraries in small communities that covers 75% of eligible costs and approximately 65% of total costs.
This letter also explains that the building will include a children’s room, reading areas for teenagers and adults, a community room that can accommodate up to 50 people, two bathrooms and a small study room. The project will be built on lot O-32, across from the Department of Highways on Leverett Road.
While some residents have expressed concerns about the site, including the costs associated with potential remediation of contaminants, city administrator Becky Torres said testing showed no evidence of problems. A tower there was operated by Westover Air Force Base from 1957 to 1967, and it has contact with the Army Corps of Engineers, which removed a tank from the site in the mid-1990s.
A citizen petition regarding the school’s roof calls for the transfer of $700,000 in free cash to fund both the design and engineering, and the actual replacement, which has not been done despite requests to the Massachusetts School Building Authority as of 2014.
“The roof has continued to leak as isolated repairs are made while city officials refuse to allocate the funds needed to replace the school’s entire roof,” the petition reads.
Miscellaneous other expenses include borrowing $225,000 for a new highway department dump truck and using $54,000 free cash for a police interceptor SUV and $45,000 free cash for a SUV interceptor for firefighters.
The Community Preservation Act account will be used for several projects, with $50,000 to help Kestrel Land Trust purchase land on Pelham Hill Road with 2,000 feet of road frontage which is close to the headwaters of Amethyst Creek and includes a historic dam and mill; $22,000 to support Kestrel’s first phase of protecting conservation sites around Ames Pond; and $10,000 requested by the Historical Commission to repair and restore the historic mile guide on the Town Common.
The warrant also includes $346,650 to maintain operations of the municipal lighting plant and $127,860 to mark the final payment of construction costs for the broadband build.
Other citizen petitions include endorsement of both Medicare for All and the Fair Share Amendment and a call for the Planning Board to write a lighting zoning bylaw for 2023, and a temporary bylaw. to “reduce light pollution, unnecessary sky glow and other glare”.