Library Renovation Project Q&A from the Town Administrator

There have been a number of questions asked in the last few weeks leading up to Town Meeting and the election regarding the Library Renovation project. In an effort to provide the necessary information for voters to feel they can make an informed decision, the Town Administrator has provided the following information. 


Ballot Question Randall Library Renovation
Shall the Town of Stow be allowed to exempt from the provisions of proposition two and one-half, so-called, the amounts required to pay for the bond issued in order to pay costs of (i) designing, (ii) constructing, and (iii) equipping renovations and additions to the Randall Library, including the payment of all costs incidental and related thereto? 
YES    (    )   NO   (     )
(Please note under municipal election laws, the below explanation cannot appear on the ballot. In addition, there will be no dollar amount on the ballot – as the law does not allow for it.  This explanation, however, will provide information voters should know to help them make an informed vote)
EXPLANATION:  (Debt Exclusion):
Voting YES on this question would authorize a borrowing (including principal and interest costs), paid for by the taxpayers, to cover the costs of designing, constructing, and equipping renovations and additions to the Randall Library estimated at a BORROWING Amount of $6.7M. Based on the current interest rates the impact would be approximately $.33/thousand to the tax rate in the highest years and decrease over a twenty-year period. On a $600,000 home the impact would be approximately a $198 increase in the highest year, decreasing over the twenty years.   (This is the highest amount to be borrowed, as any fundraising, additional trust funds, or grants would lower this amount)


Voting NO on this question would not authorize any funding in the next fiscal year for any repairs or renovation to the existing Randall Library. Should the question not pass, the Town will evaluate the repair priorities and will bring forth requests over the next several years to make the required renovations to keep the staff and patrons safe.  




Q: Town Meeting Article 44 is for $8,850,000, why is the borrowing expected at a lower amount?
 A: In Article 44, and subsequent Articles 45 & 46 we are looking to apply other funding toward the Library Debt Exclusion to lessen the burden on the taxpayers. Through Article 44, the Community Preservation Committee is appropriating $1,000,000 towards the project to update and restore the historic portion of the building. Additionally, two of the Library Trust Funds voted to allocate funds towards the project. The Library Trustees approved $500,000 and the Hale High School Trust Fund approved $400,000. 
In Article 45, we are appropriating monies that were received through prior borrowings to the project, as it can only be used to offset excluded debt. That amount is $140,235.90.
And in Article 46, we are reallocating funds that were appropriated at the 2020 Annual Town Meeting for a new roof and HVAC repairs to the Library.  COVID derailed those plans and the funds are still on our books, ready to be applied to the new project.  Should that article pass, we will repurpose $103,352.64 to the project. 
$8,850,000 - $1,000,000 - $900,000 - $140,235.90 - $103,352.64 = $6,706,411.46
This $6.7M would be the highest amount of the borrowing for Debt Exclusion. The Friends of the Library have undertaken a rigorous fundraising campaign and any donations received over the 2-year project would be turned over to the town to lower the total borrowing amount. 


Q: I don’t like all the glass in the conceptual design. Is that design what the building will look like?
A: NO! The initial phase of this project was just to establish the needs of the library and design a concept of what the project might look like in terms of size of the addition, shape of the addition, where the addition would go, how the main building will look, and how the outside might look, but nothing is finalized. 
Over the entire design process there will be public engagement to determine what the building should look like before the process moves forward into the construction phase. The proposed square footage, location of the addition, shape of the addition, all interior work, will be as proposed, but the materials to be used, specific design features, how the exterior looks, landscaping, and the impact to Common Road will all involve public input and feedback. 
I would ask for members of the community, who understand the need for a renovated library, but might not like the conceptual “look”, to not only participate in the process, but become part of the process and be on the building committee to ensure varying perspectives are included in this process. 


Q: Why is the Town looking to get all the money to design and construct the project in one vote? Why aren’t we approving design funds now and construction funds next year?
A: We are aware there are a number of large projects in the pipeline for the next few years.  Most significantly, the high school building committee is expecting a vote in 2023 on the future of that project.  Given that the school will likely be in the tens of millions of dollars, we did not want to jeopardize either project by pitting them against each other.   
In addition, given the rapidly deteriorating condition of the Randall Library, if the vote does not pass, it is best to know that now, because we will still need to invest a large amount of funding to make the necessary repairs to keep the building from further deterioration while keeping patrons and staff safe. And it would be better to start planning for that sooner rather than later.


Q:  How do we know the design firm will take our feedback on the design?
A:  At the end of the day, this is YOUR building in YOUR community. The design firm will design what we want, provided it stays within the total overall budget approved at Town Meeting.  They will have recommendations or provide reasons why something might not look good or work, but it will be up to the Committee, composed of residents and the Library Director, to decide what the best option is.  Again, I would challenge residents, who have a strong opinion on the look, to become part of the solution and be on the Building Committee.


Approved at Town Meeting, but Ballot Question fails
Q:  What happens if Town Meeting passes the article, but it fails at the ballot?
A:  The project does not move forward at this time but could be put on a future ballot.
 Fails at Town Meeting, but passes at the Ballot
Q:  What happens if Town Meeting does not pass the article, but it passes at the ballot?
A:  The Town would call a Special Town Meeting to put forth the same article and ask Town Meeting to ratify the will of the voters at the election.

 Fails at Town Meeting, and Ballot Question fails
Q:  What happens if Town Meeting does not pass the article, and it fails at the ballot?
A:  The project does not move forward at this time and would have to be put before another Town Meeting and ballot. 
Approved at Town Meeting, and passes at the Ballot
Q:  What happens if Town Meeting passes the article, and it passes at the ballot?
A:  The project moves forward into the design phase and when that is complete it will move into the construction phase.