Tilton Library Building Committee lays out rough timeline for renovation

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 01-27-2023 1:07 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — In its first virtual meeting since forming, the Tilton Library Building Committee and its architect laid out an estimated timeline for the $12.3 million expansion and renovation project’s design and construction, with a projected move-in date of spring 2025.

The Building Committee, which named Library Trustee Satu Zoller as chairperson and Selectboard member Tim Hilchey as vice chair, held its first meeting since being appointed and met with architect Philip O’Brien, who led the committee through the project’s projected timeline. Project Manager Dan Pallotta, who is also undertaking the Greenfield Public Library project, was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting.

“We’re looking, basically, at going out to bid in November,” O’Brien said. “By the time we get down to the end of winter or spring in 2025, you’ll be glad to see Dan and I leave and you can move into your new home.”

Before Tilton Library’s renovation project is complete, however, it faces a long road where it must finish its design — while incorporating community feedback — and also find two temporary locations, one for library operations and the other for storing additional library materials. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), which is contributing a $4 million grant to the project, requires Tilton Library remain open during construction.

Public feedback is expected to be gathered sometime in the next few months during the schematic design revisions phase, which, according to O’Brien’s timeline, will wrap up in late March.

“I think the best thing to do is to have a pretty good idea of what direction you want to head in,” O’Brien explained, “and then present that to folks and look for their feedback.”

Committee member Judith Holmes, who also serves on the Friends of Tilton Library, asked when the library should be seeking permit approval from the Planning Board, to which O’Brien said that wouldn’t be done until construction documents are roughly 75% complete, and even then that might be early.

“Typically folks like planning boards and building inspectors aren’t interested in plans that aren’t complete. … If it’s 75% complete, there’s still 25% of ‘t’ crosses and ‘i’ dots missing,” O’Brien said. “Based on this schedule, probably in September or October we’ll talk about getting on their agenda.”

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O’Brien noted the timeline is a “living document” and could change at any point of the project.

Finding a temporary home for the library is something the staff and town will have to figure out over the next 10 months. O’Brien explained previous projects have typically moved out in the bid phase, which is expected to occur in November, but it can vary.

“It’s really early for this conversation,” he said. “You are probably going to want to move out sometime at the end of the construction documents phase and in the bid phase. … Some folks want to wait until they have the bid in hand before they move out.”

Library Director Candace Bradbury-Carlin, answering Hilchey’s question on how much space the temporary library location will need, said the MBLC has flexible requirements for a temporary location.

“Any conversations we’ve had about it, especially with the MBLC, is to see what’s out there,” Bradbury-Carlin said. “The library will adapt to the space that is given to us or that we’re renting, within reason.”

Preliminary ideas for temporary locations include the old Cumberland Farms building in South Deerfield, empty buildings and rooms available at the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association or Historic Deerfield, temporary classrooms at Deerfield Academy or Eaglebrook School, Tree House Brewing Co.’s office spaces, or the buildings across from the Red Roof Inn. The library may explore a request for proposals, if necessary.

The Tilton Library Building Committee will meet again on Feb. 7.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.

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