It has been nearly three months since the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) hosted a community workshop to generate ideas on a future renovation and/or relocation of the library. At the previous meeting, held in early December, workshop participants laid out three different options for the future of the library: renovating and expanding the existing space, renovating the existing building and constructing a new building on a parcel of land — owned by the library — near Mashashimuet Park, or moving all of the library services to a building on the plot near the park.
In December, architect Michael Scott, of Newman Architects, said the library would be ready with plans by March, but now JJML director Cathy Creedon says preliminary plans will be presented to the public on April 20. The plans will include several different architectural options. In light of the economic crisis, the library needed an extra few weeks to “really make sure we were pursuing the best plans for the community,” said Creedon.
On April 20, Creedon said the library will have rough budgetary figures for each design option. By the second meeting, scheduled for May 6, Creedon expects the board to winnow down the plan options, decide upon materials and furnishings and present specific cost estimates. Creedon added the final option will be up for a referendum by late June or early July.
Although the economics of the project is a chief concern for the board, JJML board vice-president Christiane Neuville said the referendum couldn’t be postponed because of the state of the existing building. A number of consultants, including a mechanical and plumbing engineer and an historic building preservationist, were hired by Newman Architects to visit the building and compile a laundry list of necessary repairs.
The consultants found the building’s wiring is non-conforming, the boiler system is functioning at a compromised level and the emergency systems lack proper lighting, fire pulls and sprinklers. In addition, the roof hasn’t been replaced since the 1950s. The cast-iron drain pipes from the roof to the ground are consistently blocked, forcing the water to go through the library’s walls. Creedon said there are often leaks throughout the building, including a leak over the computer area in the basement.
“The consultants’ recommendation was that this building is in need of immediate attention,” said Creedon. The compromised condition of the building is further exacerbated by an increased demand for library services. According to Creedon, over the past year library usage has increased by 23 percent.
The next public meeting on the library’s options will be held on Monday, April 20 at the John Jermain Memorial Library, 201 Main Street, at 5:15 p.m.
Above: The iron piping is exposed in the basement floor of the library, and is a constant source of leaks.