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Trustees met Tuesday to determine the scope of the library renovation.

The library has four sets of steps up to the main entrance. It was decided a ramp would not work.

Officials decided a second side ramp would not be any more accessible than the current one on Melrose Street, which leads to an elevator.

Town Officials, Trustees Review Adams Library Project

By Dan Gigliotti
iBerkshires Correspondent
03:03PM / Thursday, December 12, 2013
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Renovations to the Free Library are expected to cost about $860,000, according to preliminary estimates.

ADAMS, Mass. — Designs for the Adams Free Library renovation are being completed and will soon require public approval for the project to move forward.

Town officials met with the architect and library trustees on Tuesday to present a scope of work and cost estimate for repairs.

Preliminary cost estimates for the project made by Austin Design Inc. are $862,824, including seven phases of construction and repairs. According to Town Administrator Jonathan Butler, the town will recommend blanket approval for the cost at its special town meeting in March.

"If there is a potential down the road to offset any costs with grant funding, we'll pursue that. But in terms of the construction budget, we're going for it with one, blanket approval at town meeting. That's what we would recommend, anyway," Butler said.

Based on interest rates Butler said are currently good, he projects a construction budget to be an 8- to 10-year borrowing. He could not give a definite estimate on Tuesday but thought the burden on taxpayers will amount to a few thousand dollars on the whole.

"We've been planning right along ... to slide this library project, knowing that it was coming, into the place of the old town hall project, now that it's off the books," Butler said.

In the past, Butler has noticed a trend of contracting bids for projects of this size to be submitted under estimate because of the competitive nature of the market.

To date, the town has appropriated $75,000 to the Adams Free Library project, much of which has gone toward design costs.

The project will likely be completed under one general contractor, based on the recommendation of Austin Design architect Tom Chalmers. Once a final cost estimate is projected following the design phase, the town must authorize spending for this project before it goes out for bid.

Austin Design determined it was not feasible to build a new ramp to the front entrance of the historic 1897 building, whose cornerstone was laid by President McKinley. An alternative design to install a ramp on the side of the building, leading to the main entrance, was created, but trustees and town officials believed it would prove no easier access to the library's main floor than the existing alternative: the elevator in the basement.

The exclusion of the front entrance ramp from the project will save the town an estimated $142,620.

Plans for the library's basement level must be decided on in the coming weeks before the design stage is completed. This includes alterations for a second egress and the likely removal of a stage area.

As it stands, the entire roof will be removed and replaced. According to construction documents, the existing roof was installed in 1997, which came with a 15-year warranty that expired in 2012.

The most costly of these phases are stone and brick masonry repairs to the exterior of the building that has deteriorated as a result of water damage and deferred maintenance.

"Most of the work that has to be done to the facade with the stone is stuff you have to do after 50 years or so," Chalmers said.

The town must gain approval within state laws for a number of variances, including reconstruction of the library's main entrance. Plans call for the replacing the granite foundation with the reuse of existing materials.

"We could just be repairing the main entrance, in which case it wouldn't matter," said Chalmers. "But, it's so bad, we're taking it out. And since we're taking it out, even though we're putting it back, it's basically a new entrance. So, technically, it should be made accessible."

The design of the approach will match its current appearance, according to the construction documents.

Chalmers is optimistic that variances can be granted prior to the March special town meeting, at which the town hopes to gain approval for the project design.

A restroom will be constructed in a vacant area just inside the building's main entrance. There are numerous code deficiencies inside the library relative to the state's Architectural Access Board that will be remedied, like installing automatic door openers, alterations to door handles, installing handrails and purchasing furniture to ensure the building is universally accessible.

Tags: capital projects,   historical building,   public library,   renovation,   

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