FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Aug. 3, 2023
STOW – The Town of Stow wishes to share the following update on the Randall Library project with the community, and provide further information about a proposal coming before the Special Town Meeting in September.
Since 2020, the Town has been working toward a plan to modernize the Library to make it a focal point of life in Stow, ensuring the building is accessible and inclusive for all, reimagning program space, and addressing building systems and maintenance issues.
In Spring 2022, Voters approved spending $8.85 million on the project, both at Town Meeting and at a town-wide referendum in support of a Proposition 2 ½ debt exclusion.
Since that approval, supply chain challenges have increased costs, both for the Library project and for municipal projects across the country. These challenges include delivery time for materials, increasing freight and storage costs, and inability of bidders and contractors to provide skilled labor. The Library project also has been affected by the cost of hazardous materials remediation, HVAC upgrades, and the decision to move forward with a sustainable fully electric building.
The Library Building Committee 2.0 and the Exterior Design Committee have been making cuts to reduce costs without compromising programming or community needs. Additionally, the Town continues to seek additional grants and outside funding to reduce the price tag further.
The Town Administrator intends to bring forward an article at the Sept. 18 Special Town Meeting to seek approval to spend additional money beyond the initial $8.85 million. The Town will not raise taxes further; approved additional spending will be provided through the Town Administrator’s operating budget. The maximum cost to the taxpayers will still be what was approved through Article 44 at the 2022 Annual Town Meeting, or $6,706,500. All additional funding will be through grants, trust funds, donations, and the Town’s operating budget.
The deteriorating building has caused numerous challenges in recent months. Heavy rains created new leaks in the ceiling, causing plaster to fall. During last month’s heat wave, the Library’s air conditioning failed, forcing cancelation of a number of community programs. Town and Library administration believe it is not a wise use of taxpayer dollars to repair these systems unless the vote at the Special Town Meeting does not pass.
Should the article not pass at the Special Town Meeting, the Town will use what’s left of the approved project budget (minus all the design funds) to retrofit the existing building to start addressing systems and structural issues. Should this happen, there would not be any new space or programming added.
In an effort to be as open and transparent with this project, the Town will provide project updates through a consolidated project page. Meeting information, presentations, minutes, and meeting videos can all be found in one place: https://www.stow-ma.gov/library-renovation-project-page.
Those interested may subscribe to project updates through the project page.
Artist's rendering of the Randall Library expansion. (Photo Courtesy Town of Stow)
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