The Library Feasibility Committee requested to go in front of the Upton Board of Selectman on August 2 to discuss the possibility of using the Route 140 town-owned parking lot in front of the playground as a potential site for a new library.
Upton Library Director Matthew Bachtold advised the Board that the feasibility committee was charged with finding the best option for getting an improved library facility for the town. “We’ve identified basically two paths that we can take,” he said. One path involves using a state grant program which offers significant state funding for the project.
“The grant carries some requirements for what needs to be included in the building and what services need to be provided,” Bachtold said. “There is really no way we can meet those requirements without finding a new site and doing new construction,” he said.
According to Bachtold the second option includes renovating an existing building and allows more flexibility but doesn’t include funds from the state grant program.
“At this point, the feasibility committee is focused on the grant option for a couple of reasons,” said Bachtold. “One, it is a significant amount of state funds that we can leverage. The other is the deadline for the grant application is coming up in October.”
“The option we are bringing to the Board for discussion today is located on Milford Street in front of Veterans Memorial Playground,” said Bachtold. “We wanted to get some feedback from you.”
“We have a tentative design that would provide space for a two story library with 16,000 square feet,” said Feasibility Committee Member Linda Arthur.
Selectman Bob Fleming commended the committee for their hard work saying he knows how difficult it has been trying to find locations suitable for a new library.
Fleming expressed concerns about reducing parking in the 140 lot and wondered if the playground could be relocated or possibly have its footprint changed in a way that would allow the library to be in the space without eliminating too much parking.
“I would be open to possibly looking at a reconfiguration in this location,” said Fleming. He noted the current plan eliminates two-thirds of the current parking. “If you could get it down to a one-third, or less, that would be more attractive,” he said.
Bachtold advised when they asked the architect to look at the land they directed him to not touch the playground.
Selectmen Daugherty and Brochu also expressed concerns losing parking spaces at that location.
“I’m not averse to putting it there,” said Brochu. “I think we need to do a little more homework on how to not affect the playground and the parking,” he said. “That is the only downtown parking that we have.
Brochu asked if the proposed 16,000 square feet plan was required by the state.
“The state does not require any square footage,” said Bachtold. “What the state requires is that you list all the services you think the library should include,” he said. “There are some standards,” he said. For example based on the number of people in town you need a specific number of books, a certain size meeting room, etc. “Then it’s the architect’s job to take that list of services and turn that into a floor plan,” he said.
Bachtold said the 16,000 square is an estimated plan and is optimistic the can do this is less than 16,000 square feet. “Could that come to a 7,000 footprint on two stories, maybe,” he said.
“Do you feel you have exhausted all other opportunities?” Brochu asked. “I know that there is a property at the bottom across from Mobico….and on the other side of Brook on Grove Street,” he said.
“I appreciate the idea,” Bachtold said. “We’ve had conversations with both of the land owners you just mentioned and additionally other people who own parcels in town. None of the landowners offered.” Bachtold did note two sites were offered during the RFP period and are still being considered, although both of those sites have challenges.
Bachtold did note two sites were offered during the RFP and are still being considered, although he said both of those sites have challenges.
“I want to add one thing to keep in mind,” said Town Manager Blythe Robinson. “If we do end up with a two story building the staffing cost is different than a one-story building.”