State awards library grant to West Tisbury, bypasses Edgartown

The West Tisbury Library.
File photo by Susan Safford

The West Tisbury Library.

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) last Thursday awarded a provisional construction grant of $2,982,544 to the West Tisbury Free Public Library building project.

The Edgartown Free Public Library, which applied for a $5,002,139 grant, got a place on the waiting list. Edgartown ranks fourth out of fifteen on the list.

“Getting to this point has taken the work of hundreds of people in the community, so today we can all celebrate,” West Tisbury Library trustee Dan Waters said in a prepared statement Thursday.

Edgartown library supporters were disappointed with the news, but hope that money will be freed up from communities that do not proceed with construction plans.

“Edgartown was close,” library building committee member Chris Scott said shortly after learning the town did not receive a grant. “We aren’t guaranteed funds. The communities ahead of us would have to be unable to go forward.”

“It would have been nice to be in the first ranking,” library building committee chairman Carl Watt said Friday. “It seems to me we’re in a very strong position for release of the second round of funding.”

The MBLC awarded a total of $28,448,989 in construction grants to eight communities, according to a press release. Twenty-eight libraries competed for grants.

Communities that received grants will now have until January 2012 to secure local funding, according to a press release from MBLC. Wait-listed libraries will receive their grants as funds become available through the state’s five–year capital plan.

“The grant award puts the West Tisbury Library in high gear for the next nine months,” Mr. Waters said.

“We can celebrate today, and then it’s all hands on deck,” he added.

Securing the grant is an important first step in the process.

“The building committee now goes back for another round of community input, revising the preliminary designs, funded by the Friends of the West Tisbury Library,” Mr. Waters said. “The West Tisbury Library Foundation will be hard at work raising the necessary matching funds by the end of 2011. The third piece is that at town meeting April 2012, the town will need to give its approval and appropriate its share of the funds.”

The libraries notified of grant awards today are the first to benefit from revisions in the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program regulations, approved by the MBLC in January 2010. The revisions increased the average grant award from 35 to 50 percent of the eligible costs. The revisions also enhanced the Green Library Incentive approved by the MBLC in September 2008, so that libraries can plan energy-efficient systems and construction at the outset of the project, the press release said.

The West Tisbury Library and the other seven libraries awarded the grants all plan to get the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which will qualify them to receive more state funding.

Boston-based architects Matthew Oudens and Conrad Ello presented preliminary design plans for the West Tisbury Free Public Library’s expansion last December. The architects said that 7,000 square feet would be added to the existing building, for a total of 13,200 square feet.

The library’s building committee expects the construction grant award to cover half of the cost. Of the remaining cost, a quarter would be raised from private donations and a quarter of the cost paid for by taxpayers. Construction is expected to take a year and be completed by the spring of 2014.