GREENFIELD – The amount of passionate voices at the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Greenfield Public Library would have made any librarian say “SHHHH!”
Although it was raining only a few minutes before the event, supporters and opponents of the project gathered between the fire station and the current Greenfield Public Library in the audience of five speakers. Short speeches preaching optimism, growth and gratitude were greeted with both cheers and critical outbursts pushed aside. After the speeches and the subsequent ceremonial excavation, the participants were invited to coffee and pastries in the current library.
Mayor Roxann Wedegartner opened the ceremony with a short speech, followed by the State Library Commissioner George Comeau, the Chair of the Library Board Doris Cowdrey, the Co-Chair of the Library Construction Committee Ed Berlin and the Library Director Ellen Boyer.
“A new library is a symbol of strength for the community,” said Comeau. “Libraries are a symbol of freedom. … You strengthen our democracy. ”
With regard to democracy, several perspectives were presented at the event. A small group of demonstrators holding signs gathered around the audience to express their opposition to the project and complained of “fraud” and “lies” during the speeches.
The complaints related to the project were mainly based on the allocation of taxpayers’ money, allegations by city officials that they were dishonest with residents, and the idea that a public library is already servicing the city.
“I’m not against the library as these people think,” said Dawn Morin, one of the protesters.
Speakers at the ceremony tried to loosen the atmosphere by both direct shelling and insisting that the new library prove its worth.
“All we knew was that our current library building was woefully inadequate to serve the community,” Cowdrey said.
Lane Fletcher, who worked as a substitute teacher for 26 years, said she had been going to the Greenfield Public Library since moving from East Texas at the age of 2. During her time at the library, she had observed the building collapse shortly before the Code of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
“There’s a ramp if you go down,” she said. “I had to help people go up the ramp. It couldn’t be ADA approved. ”
Fletcher said the new library will be a great service to everyone in town, even if they denounce the project.
“This is for all citizens of Greenfield, whether they like it or not,” Fletcher said.
“I can assure you that what we’re going to build here is more than just bricks and mortar,” said Comeau. “This is a product of vision and dedication. I promise you that this will make our lives more fulfilling. ”
Berlin conveyed a message from Tim Farrell, co-chair of the library building committee, adding that the project was “on schedule and on budget,” an announcement that was greeted with thunderous applause by the crowd. The $ 19.5 million funding will go towards both construction costs and the cost of the architect, project manager, furniture and fixtures, Berlin previously said.
In addition to a $ 9.4 million grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the Greenfield Public Library Foundation has announced that it will contribute approximately $ 2 million, bringing the city’s cost to approximately $ 8.1 million Dollars are reduced.
The location for the new library was selected in 2016 and Greenfield voters approved the construction of a new library with a 61% positive vote in 2019, but the desire to open a new library began decades ago.
“I would especially like to thank the people at Greenfield for supporting this for so long,” said Wedegartner.
“At the end of the day, the city of Greenfield will have a new, sparkling and energy-efficient library,” said Berlin.
According to Wedegartner, the construction work should be completed between the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023.
You can reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, extension. 261 or [email protected].