‘It still felt like Christmas morning’: Westborough library secures $9.4 million grant for renovation

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‘It still felt like Christmas morning’: Westborough library secures $9.4 million grant for renovation
The Westborough Public Library will undergo major renovations with help from a recently awarded state grant. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

WESTBOROUGH – Westborough Public Library staff were already anticipating receiving a grant to fund their long-awaited renovation project.

“We knew it was coming,” Director Maureen Amyot said on Monday, “but it still felt like Christmas morning.” 

During their July 7 meeting, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) awarded seven communities – including Westborough – Provisional Construction Grants through the Massachusetts Public Library Construction Program. 

The meeting of the MBLC was held in Boston. 

Instead of going into the city, Westborough library staff held a viewing party in their meeting room to watch the hybrid meeting. 

Westborough’s grant award was $9.4 million. 

“It was a really exciting moment because we have been waiting for that for so long,” Amyot said. “It really feels like we’re taking the next step toward a bigger and better library.”

Indeed, this award has been years in the making. 

Back in 2012, a strategic plan concluded that the library was too small to meet current needs.

The library applied for the grant in 2017 and was later notified that it ranked 11th on a prioritized list for funding. Westborough has now climbed to the top of that prioritization list. 

The library has operated in its current location on West Main Street since the early 1900s. 

Now partially funded by the MBLC, upcoming work will involve the demolition of an addition that was funded by Town Meeting in 1977. Crews will also demolish a small portion of the original library building. 

The total cost of the project has been estimated to be $24 million, with just over $9.4 million reimbursable under the grant. 

Amyot said the Library Building Committee has its architect – Eric Moore from Lamoureux Pagano Associates Architects – and Owner’s Project Manager – Vertex – on board. They’re in the process of bringing on a construction manager. Amyot hopes to have that person on board on the project in August. 

The architect, construction manager and Owner’s Project Manager are working on an updated cost estimate for the project, which may be completed in about a month. 

In the meantime, the architect has made changes to the design. 

“We needed to work through some of those changes, I think, for the better so that naturally affects pricing,” Amyot said.

Some of these changes have involved making sure that the library isn’t close to the property line with a neighboring home. Changes are also reallocating space inside the library. 

Another change involves having a library side entrance off Parkman Street lead into the main level of the library. The original design had the entrance come into a half level and use either an elevator or stairs to access the rest of the library. 

“We realized in the last couple of years looking at the designs – that’s not very friendly or welcoming,” Amyot said. 

Plus, she noted that staff couldn’t monitor who was entering the library. 

The new design has added outdoor space and a covered porch. There will also be outdoor space with high sides outside of the children’s department. 

Community members are invited to attend a public forum on July 19 at 7 p.m. at the library to discuss recent and upcoming steps with this project. 

An article seeking town funds for the library project is expected to come before Town Meeting in October.

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