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The tower on the North Adams Public Library has structural and leaking issues. It has been a concern of the trustees for several years now.
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The library's parlor, used as the reading room, is being refreshed with new wallpaper and furniture.

North Adams May Support Belvedere Fundraising Campaign

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The trustees are hoping have the belvedere fixed.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The planning committee for the city's 125th celebration wants to host a fundraising campaign to benefit the library's belvedere.
 
Library Director Sarah Sanfilippo told the trustees on Wednesday that she has been in contact with the 125th Celebration Planning Committee that has indicated it wants to focus some fundraising efforts on the deteriorating tower.
 
"They would like to know what our best estimate would be for that because they may not be able to raise it all but they can make it a goal," member of the planning committee and Trustee Donald Pecor said. "They want something that they think major donors would look at and think is worthwhile."
 
North Adams is planning a weekend celebration in April marking the 125th year of its incorporation as city.
 
The landmark belvedere on the historic Blackinton Mansion has been a concern of the trustees for some time now with leaks, broken windows, and structural issues.
 
However, the trustees could not pinpoint an estimate and were not sure if the city underwent any sort of study in the past.
 
Some trustees thought the number $100,000 had been thrown around at some point while others recalled $500,000. The library had undergone an addition and partial renovation about 15 years ago.
 
Trustee Chairwoman Robin Martin said she recently called Building Inspector William Meranti, who told her that there was no master library maintenance list and library projects are mixed with other city projects.
 
"There is no wishlist for the library and there is no sense of how much anything will cost," she said. "They have not contacted any contractors."
 
She said Meranti wanted the trustees to create this wishlist.
 
The trustees felt the only way to address such a large project would be a Massachusetts Historic Commision grant. Martin said when the city secured this grant in the past for the library addition, an engineering study had to be done first.
 
"There was so much time and money spent before we could apply for the grant," she said.
 
The trustees agreed if the engineering costs were reasonable, they would consider funding a study. President of the Friends Bonnie Rennell said her group, too would be willing to kick in some money.
 
The conversation then turned to other projects in the building and Martin noted that the city carpenter has been picking away at things.
 
"He knows that we are interested in getting some things done but it is the same as always," she said. "The city has a million things to get done and only a few people to do it."
 
She said a larger project on the horizon is the two side porches, for example, the flooring on the East Main Street side needs to be completely replaced.  
 
She said Meranti would allow volunteers to help with some smaller non-specialized projects.
 
In other business, Sanfilippo said the parlor re-wallpapering is largely complete and there will be a grand opening Thursday, March 13, at 2 p.m.
 
"If you haven't stopped in, the parlor is all laid out and the wallpaper work is all done," she said. "It looks awesome."
 
The Friends of the Library hired an interior decorator and are using a bequest from the estate of Evelyn Gooch to refresh the room with new wallpaper. Gooch, who died in 2018, was a longtime secretary of the Friends and left $10,000 to the group to be used toward the library.
 
The old wallpaper was nearly 40 years old and not original to the 1865 room.
 
She said they moved some of the old furniture back in but will install the new furniture in the near future.
 
Sanfilippo updated the trustees on the library's strategic planning process and said she has assembled a team of trustees and community members including a high school student.
 
The plan to use the Harwood Institute method that will have them looking outward to the community instead of just looking inward to inform a strategic plan.
 
"Instead of doing like an internal analysis ... you actually reach out to the community ... and ask what they want out of their library," she said.

Tags: historic buildings,   NAPL,   

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Governor Announces COVID-19 Relief Fund, Testing Facility for WMass

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
BOSTON — A COVID-19 testing facility is expected to be up and running in West Springfield by the end of the week for public safety workers.  
 
The information was provided at Gov. Charlie Baker's daily update on Monday, which also included the announcement of a $13 million Massachusetts COVID-19 Relief Fund to support local foundations and community assets, especially front-line workers during the novel coronavirus pandemic. 
 
The governor had indicated on Sunday the possibility of a testing center Western Massachusetts while speaking at the opening of a drive-through testing center at Gillette Stadium for first-responders. Two drive-through testing sites were set up about two weeks ago in Waltham and Shrewsbury. 
 
"We've now tested about 76,500 people in Massachusetts and 13,837 have tested positive," he said. "Tomorrow we'll announce a new site, in partnership with CVS, that will conduct up to 1,000 tests a day. ... There's another one that will be going up probably later this week at the Big E in West Springfield."
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