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We Can Afford a New Library and Fire Station

As a Certified Public Accountant, I’m very sensitive to the financial health of my clients. I’m especially sensitive to the financial health of the City where I live, the City of Greenfield. Like other residents, I had my concerns over the City’s ability to build both a new library and a new fire station. 


I don’t have these concerns anymore because of two recent events.


First, two independent bond rating agencies, Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s, reviewed both our debt policies and our financial practices. They both reaffirmed the strength of the City’s financial position and debt structure. Each gave us favorable bond ratings which keep our borrowing costs low.


Second, I was also pleased to learn that the original debt projections covering 2020 to 2030 from Mayor Martin’s office have now been updated. (The original figures were overstated because they incorrectly included interest owed on the debt.) 


Based on these updated projections, the library and fire station projects would put the total debt in the $33 million to $65 million range. This is well within Greenfield’s borrowing capacity of $75 million. (State law lets cities carry debt that is between 5-10% of the assessed property value.)


Furthermore, Department of Revenue best practices suggest principal and interest payments should be within 8-10% of a City’s overall operating budget. (The updated projections for 2020-2030, show that debt service remains below the 10% maximum.) 


As we add debt for the Library and the Fire Station projects, debt from other projects will be retired keeping our total debt as low as possible in future years. The total debt and the debt service part of the operating budget remain comfortably within State requirements and best practices. So overall, the City is in a good financial position.


I believe a new library is the key to having Greenfield seen as a vibrant City, one that can attract new people and businesses to join our community. A new library and our acceptance of the $9.4M grant send the message that Greenfield is ready for and wants a better future. A down-sized renovated library sends a different, less hopeful, message.


Invest in the future of our Greenfield. Please vote YES for a new library on November 5th.


By Jonathan Cohen-Gorczyca, CPA

Greenfield

The Recorder, October 18 2019, Readers Write

On the proposed new library


Library – do we want one or not? The state has offered Greenfield $9.3 million for a new library. Our current library has been great since 1909. However with new standards for safety, the current structure needs up to $8 million to upgrade it. Around $20 million will build a new, larger facility. The state contribution is about 46 percent of the total. Already, donations have amounted to about $700,000.


This November get out and vote for or against a new library. Middle, high school and college students use our library to study.


It is a great deal of money. But we are looking at a long-range plan for our city. Yes, a library is highly important.


Benjamin Franklin believed libraries are important.


When our library gets a new book, they see what book is no longer of interest to readers. Because there is no room for expansion.


The War of 1812 with England ended in 1815. In this conflict, the British Army burned the White House and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Thomas Jefferson (third president 1801-1809) had a library of 9,000 books. Jefferson sold many books to the USA to make up for the loss.


Benjamin Franklin started the first library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He encouraged rich friends to loan him their books to be rented to others. The borrowers had to pay a fee. Franklin guaranteed the books would be kept in good condition or be repaired.


LEW LACHANCE

Greenfield

The Recorder, October 12 2019; My Turn

Facts about the current and new library and your taxes


If you are a Greenfield citizen, when we vote on Nov. 5 to either accept or reject the $9.38 million from the state to build a new library, it is most important that such a decision be based upon accurate information, and not on opinion or hearsay. This is perhaps the most important decision Greenfield voters will make in our lifetime, affecting future generations. Each of the topics and facts addressed below can be verified at https://libraryyes. info/find-out-more If the grant for the new library is rejected, taxes will not be lower than if we build a new library, and may even be higher. Since the visit in June by the Massachusetts Office of Disabilities (MOD), Greenfield has been put on notice that the current library is out of compliance with both federal and state disability access standards. Our library can no longer remain the way it is, and would require renovation for the city to avoid legal liability. After carefully studying the building, an architect and engineer estimated this renovation cost to be about $8.6 million. This extensive renovation would mean the books and other resources would be moved out and stored, and the library would be closed for at least a year during renovation.


This renovated library would meet less of the needs of our children, teens, and adults because the public space will be even 30 percent smaller than it is currently. John Andrews, a member of the Greenfield Planning and Construction Committee, governor of the Greenfield Moose Lodge, and a contractor, was recently quoted after touring the building to assess work needed for the current library to pass code, “The scope of work from the very lower level was astounding to me,” Andrews said. “As a carpenter, I would not want to invest in it. That’s my personal opinion, but that building is a problem. It’s a great historical site, but it’s not a good site for a library.”


If we vote yes for the new library we get to keep the $9.38 million grant, we get to keep the $2 million being raised by the Library Foundation, and we pay about $8 million. But what do we get for that $8 million? We get a library that is more than twice the size of the old renovated library that will have the necessary facilities for our teens, children, and adults. We get group and individual places to quietly study and work. We have many more computers, larger book collection spaces, appropriate meeting spaces for the over 380 programs the library sponsors each year, and an energy efficient building.


You also get to pull your car up to the entryway to let someone with limited mobility out under the overhang near the door. You then get to park your car in one of the over 80 spaces adjacent to the building. Once inside you still have our amazing librarians to serve you, but with even more abilities because of the new facilities.


The library is one of the greatest draws to our downtown with 152,327 average visits per year; over 400 per day. There are 15,565 cardholders, and more than 9,400 people attended programs for adults and children last year. Studies show that an excellent downtown library improves economic development and quality of life.


Adding to the practicality of building a new library is the knowledge that the evaluation by Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s demonstrates that building both a fire station and a new library keeps Greenfield within healthy borrowing limits. If we reject this state library grant and wait until the next round of funding to build a library it will be decades from now.


If you vote like I do, based on moral principle and fiscal responsibility, then I see it as irresponsible to vote no and spend my taxes on renovating and ending up with a bigger bill for a smaller library, lose $9.38 million of state money, and have no library for at least a year. I find it immoral for me to vote no. Our children, and their children, deserve a wonderful library. Given all of the above information, I find it my fiscal and moral obligation to vote yes for a new library on Nov. 5. I hope to see you at the polls.


Paul C. Jablon is a Greenfield resident.

The Recorder, October 11 2019, Readers Write

Supporting a new library


I am already dreaming of walking from my home on Prospect Avenue to our new public library. In my dream, I pass many teens going to teen-organized events in the spacious new building.


Inside, city officials listen to the suggestions of townspeople gathered in comfortable, well lit meeting rooms. Parents sit in cozy circles with their young children, listening to engaging stories read by local authors.


I am filled with pride in this space that is designed to serve each and every member of our community. I am filled with pride that members of our community have voted “YES Library ” to make this happen.


WISTY RORABACHER

Greenfield

The Recorder, October 10 2019, Readers Write

Yes for a new library


Last March, Josh Solomon wrote an article in this paper titled ”Deja vu: Town had similar discussion about library 112 years ago.” It was a fun bit of history to learn about how a tenacious group of Greenfield residents made a decision the evening of July 24, 1907, to take the Hovey House and make it our current library. Oh, how the city of Greenfield and its surrounding towns have benefited from this decision.


Ever since, the library has served decades and generations of families. What foresight and ingenuity! It’s notable how long their decision has impacted the overall community. It’s our responsibility as the next generation to take the same position as our fore-bearers. Let’s take the opportunity to move forward and construct a new, state-of- the-art, “green” library. Why not be part of a similar group who can influence people now and for generations to come. Please vote yes to build a new library.


Library Yes! Facts: https://libraryyes. info/find-out-more


KIM WOLCOTT

Greenfield

The Recorder, October 7 2019, Readers Write

Join me in voting yes for a new library


A public library is a unique space in the heart of every community. It doesn’t matter what color, size, shape, gender, ableness, or socioeconomic status you are; all are welcome. Whether you are there for the books, magazines, newspapers, movies, internet access, workshops, or community gatherings, the best part is that it’s all free to utilize.


Unfortunately, Greenfield’s cur- rent library building is not easily accessible for those with mobility issues, excluding people from access to these wonderful materials. The building is also no longer strong enough or large enough to support the materials inside, severely limiting the services that the library is able to continue offering.


Luckily, Greenfield has received a huge grant to help pay for a new building. It would be roughly the same cost to the town to update the current building, which would still continue to be limited by space after the renovation.


Please join me in voting Yes on Nov. 5 for a beautiful new spacious, accessible, and community-oriented library!


MICHELLE TIRRELL

Greenfield

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The Recorder, October 30 2019. Readers Write

Join me in voting yes for a new library


A public library is a unique space in the heart of every community. It doesn’t matter what color, size, shape, gender, ableness, or socioeconomic status you are; all are welcome. Whether you are there for the books, magazines, newspapers, movies, internet access, workshops, or community gatherings, the best part is that it’s all free to utilize.


Unfortunately, Greenfield’s current library building is not easily accessible for those with mobility issues, excluding people from access to these wonderful materials. The building is also no longer strong enough or large enough to support the materials inside, severely limiting the services that the library is able to continue offering.


Luckily, Greenfield has received a huge grant to help pay for a new building. It would be roughly the same cost to the town to update the current building, which would still continue to be limited by space after the renovation.


Please join me in voting Yes on Nov. 5 for a beautiful new spacious, accessible, and community-oriented library!


MICHELLE TIRRELL

Greenfield

The Recorder, October 7 2019, Readers Write

Yes for a new library


For several years I have been the fortunate recipient of large print and audio books from the Greenfield Public Library, all delivered by a kind volunteer. And what a difference they make in my life! And this is not the only service our library provides. Besides books and periodicals there are programs, music, movies and computers — truly something for everyone. But now our library has outgrown its lovely old home and we need a new one. Please vote to make that happen.


MARJORIE REID

Greenfield

The Recorder, Sept 25 2019, Readers Write

Public libraries are essential


Public libraries are essential. Step inside and browse the shelves for your next great read. Stop by to read the daily paper or pickup a DVD for family movie night. Attend a career workshop, a local history lecture or bring the kids to one of the many children’s events and programs that are offered. Enjoy the free internet access which is a convenience for some but indispensable for others that may be applying for a job, completing homework, or filling out a health insurance web form. Libraries are a place to learn something new. They are a place of community, entertainment, and education. And they are one of the few places to go where you can be a citizen and not just a customer.


We need a modern library for Greenfield that can keep pace with technology and the demands of the modern user. We need a library that is accessible by everyone, energy efficient, and large enough to service our city. Unsurprisingly, when the current library building was built as a private residence in 1797, these factors were not taken into account. And the benefits of a new library would not only be limited to its visitors. Downtown business may see a boost from the increased visitors to the city center. Property values may even see a bump as a city with modern amenities is attractive to many homeowners considering Greenfield as their next home.


We have heard about the liabilities and inadequacies of the current building and the $9.38 million dollar grant available from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners to build a new library. I don’t know how often $9.38 million-dollar building grants come around for something like this, but I would hazard a guess that it is rare. Let’s take this opportunity to modernize this vital resource for our city. We benefit today from the smart decisions of previous generations. Now we have a chance to make a great decision for this generation and the generations that follow.


Greenfield, let’s build a library.


DANIEL STAFFORD

Greenfield

The Recorder, October 30 2019; Readers Write

Why we need libraries


Why do we need libraries? I think we need libraries because that is where we moms and dads start our children’s education. And everyone agrees that a good education is the way to prepare our children for the adult world that requires many kinds of knowledge, thought, skill and ambition.


As the Buckland librarian I had the opportunity to read weekly to children, at the Buckland Recreation summer camp, folk tales, bugs, stories of heroes, bugs and sharks. A third grade girl gave us our motto: “Read Until Your Heart Stops!” Shouted after each reading.


Now retired, I read weekly to a first grade at Four Corners School. I’ve read books about how plants spread, “Planting the Wild Garden;” about art, ”Magritte’s Marvelous Hat;” about great men of our country, ”Henry Builds a Cabin;” about the great women of our area who provided education for women, ”Tea With an Old Dragon;” about math, “One Grain of Rice,” and much more.


These books teach, but they also provide food for thought, how we want to live our lives. Think of the fairy tales, tales of kindness, bravery, and persistence. Think of the books about other countries that introduce us to different places, different ways of living and celebrating like the whole Magic Tree House Series.


Libraries are where children learn to love books and learn to love learning. As they learn they are eager to keep learning, and keep seeing the possibilities that life holds for them.


Generations of children, teenagers, adults, and the physically challenged need this new library which provides knowledge, inspiration and fun throughout their lives.


PAT LEUCHTMAN

Greenf ield