The McAuliffe Branch Library Building Program

McAuliffe Site Selection Process

The Framingham Public Library is applying for a construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to build a McAuliffe Branch Library of about 17,000 square feet.

The Library Trustees issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for sites for the new McAuliffe Branch library on November 1, 2010. The Library is seeking sites that are situated along Water Street and that are about 80,000 square feet in size. In order to provide convenient vehicular access to the site and to avoid secondary-street traffic, the site is to be in “the close vicinity of Water Street in the Nobscot or Saxonville sections of Framingham.” The RFP is listed in the Commonwealth’s Central Register, in the Memorial Building, and in local newspapers.

Interested landowners are requested to submit bids to David Williams, the Assistant Town Manager by Monday, November 29, 2010. The Library’s Building Committee will open bids at a 7 pm meeting that night in the Trustees Room of the Main Library. The Building Committee will recommend a site to the Library Trustees, who will meet at the same location, beginning at 8:30 pm. Both meetings are open to the public.

By law the Trustees cannot communicate with individual potential bidders (to avoid giving anyone an advantage) or discuss potential sites while negotiations are underway. They also cannot open bids until November 29, 2010, when the bids are due.

The Building Committee developed a list or selection criteria to evaluate the expected bids. The criteria include safety, environmental impact, visibility from the street, economic impact, and location relative to the area served by the current Branch library.

Town Meeting Authorizes Board of Trustees to Apply for Construction Grant

Thank you, town meeting members for your vote on October 19, 2010, on Article 11 to authorize the Library Board of Trustees to apply in January for a Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) construction grant to build a new McAuliffe Branch Library! The vote was 104-13 with 2 abstentions.

The MBLC requires libraries to obtain permission from their governing boards “to apply for, accept, and expend” a state grant for library construction. This article sought authorization from Town Meeting for the Library to apply for a grant. The article did not include any financial obligation.

We are encouraged by the support received so far. With a Planning and Design Grant, received from the MBLC, the Library has hired the architectural firm of Feingold, Alexander & Associates to create a schematic design based on the McAuliffe Building Program completed in September. The Board of Trustees will return to a Special Town Meeting in January to ask for approval of the library design and the purchase of the land, contingent on receipt of the construction grant.  

Please see A Conversation about the McAuliffe Branch Library Building Program below for further information.

A Conversation about the McAuliffe Branch Library Building Program

Why do we need a new branch library?

The McAuliffe Branch Library is too small to adequately serve the needs of patrons. With 12,000 patron visits a month, McAuliffe is the second busiest of the 106 branch libraries in Massachusetts, but among the smallest of the branch libraries. McAuliffe’s circulation exceeds that of many main libraries.

Although the McAuliffe staff do a fine job with available resources, space is severely limited:

• The collection is crammed into high, inaccessible shelves.
• The aisles are not wide enough for wheel chairs. Restrooms are not accessible.
• No space is available for tutoring sessions.
• The children’s area has too little space to set up computers or comfortably hold story hours.
• The periodicals section is extremely limited.
• The young adult section has no computers, no study area, and is limited to a single aisle of books.
• Book discussions must take place in areas where people could be trying to study.
• The four computers available for adults and children do not satisfy the demand.

With an enlarged McAuliffe Branch Library, the FPL system will be able to overcome the above deficiencies.

In addition, we need a larger Branch is to supplement library services available in the public schools. Eight of the Town’s 12 schools are located near McAuliffe. The public schools only have two professional librarians on staff, plus library aides. Elementary school libraries are now open just two weeks a month. School libraries are closed at night, on weekends, and during vacations.

How did the Library select a site for the new McAuliffe Branch Library?

The Town issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for land on November 1, 2010. The RFP specified an 80,000 square foot parcel on Water Street. As required by law, the Town advertised the RFP in the Central Register and in newspapers and posted it in the Memorial Building. A few property owners with land that met these criteria received a written invitation from the Town to bid on the RFP.

The Town received two bids:

· Richard Aronovitz, Owner: The Pinefield Plaza Shopping Center (80,000 square feet or nearly two acres): $1.5 million asking price.

· A.J. Rousseau Nobscot Trust: 732, 736, 740, 746, and 746 RR Water Street (3.7 acres) $739,800 asking price.

On November 30, 2010, the bids were opened and the Building Committee used the criteria listed in the RFQ to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of the two sites. The Building Committee voted unanimously to recommend the Rousseau site to the Trustees.

The Trustees voted unanimously in favor of the Rousseau site. The Trustees noted that the current price for the Pinefield site is more than twice the price asked in 2004, when property values were higher than now. The Trustees also noted that the Rousseau price was the assessed value; whereas, the Pinefield site greatly exceeded the assessed value.

Engineers and appraisers will evaluate the site. They will conduct geotechnical, environmental, and other studies. Final purchase is contingent upon receipt of the Mass Board of Library Commissioners Construction Grant and Town Meeting funding.

Why does the Library have an article in the 1/12/11 Town Meeting Warrant?

Before applying for the Mass Board of Library Commissioners grant on 1/27/11, the Library must obtain Town Meeting approval to proceed to the next step. This means obtaining approval of the preliminary design for the new branch library. The preliminary design is a conceptual design. It is not the final design. In addition, the Library must also obtain permission from Town Meeting to purchase the proposed site, contingent upon receiving the grant. Negotiations are currently underway for the Water Street property.

How much will the building cost?

We are considering a new one-story building of around 17,000 square feet. The estimated cost is about $6.8 million, plus land.

How will the FPL fund the building program?

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) has allocated funds for a new round of library building programs, and Framingham is submitting a grant application.

The MBLC grant will fund about 50% of the construction cost. The FPL has set up a 501(c)(3) foundation that will raise funds for the building program. In addition, the Library will request funds from the Town for the remainder of the construction costs and for the land. The MBLC grant does not include the cost of the site.

Will other operating costs increase at the new branch library?

We are striving for LEEDs certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). A LEEDS certified green building will use fuel more efficiently.

We are also planning a building with clear sight lines so that we can operate McAuliffe with current staff.

Will you continue to enhance the Main Library while focusing on the McAuliffe Branch?

The FPL has described a number of improvements to the Main Library in its Long Range Plan, 2011-2013. These include making the library more accessible for people with disabilities and reconfiguring the Children’s Room and other areas. We will also add more computers for patrons to use and reorganize parts of the collection to make it easier to locate specific items.

What are Framingham’s chances for being awarded this grant?

We have heard from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners that our chances for receiving the funds are very good.

Why do we need a new building if Kindle, Nook, iPad, and similar devices will reduce the demand for hard copy materials?

Only 5-8% of American adults now use ebooks. We don’t know how fast others will purchase e-books. Children need colorful books and other materials that they can touch, feel, and read. Some people will never want to use or be able to use electronic materials. The new branch will have a flexible design so that we can reconfigure the building as technology and patron needs change.

What is the application process?

The Library will submit a Letter of Intent to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in October, 2010 and the Grant Application in January, 2011. The MBLC will award grants on July 14, 2011.

Whom may I call if I have suggestions or questions about either the Main Library or the McAuliffe Branch Library?

For answers to your questions, call or email Jeanne Kelley, Acting Director, (508-532-5570, ext. 4358).



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