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Rough Timeline Set for Renovation of Tilton Library in South Deerfield, Mass.

Tue January 31, 2023 - Northeast Edition #4
Greenfield Recorder

A front view of the original Tilton Library. (Photo courtesy of Tilton Library)
A front view of the original Tilton Library. (Photo courtesy of Tilton Library)

In its first virtual meeting since it was formed, the Tilton Library Building Committee in South Deerfield, Mass., along with the project 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 Greenfield Recorder reported that the committee, which named Library Trustee Satu Zoller as chairperson, and Selectboard member Tim Hilchey as vice chair, held its first meeting Jan. 24. They were led through the renovation's projected design and construction timeline by architect Philip O'Brien. Project Manager Dan Pallotta, who also is undertaking the nearby Greenfield Public Library project, was unable to attend the South Deerfield 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 to spring 2025, you'll be glad to see Dan and I leave, and you can move into your new home."

The Tilton Library's upgrade, though, faces a long road before it is complete, according to the Greenfield news source. First, its design must be finished — while incorporating community feedback — and find two temporary locations: one for library operations and the other for storing more library materials.

Additionally, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC), which is contributing a $4 million grant to the project, requires that Tilton Library remain open during construction.

Public feedback is expected to be gathered over the next several weeks 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 told the committee, "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 seek permit approval from the Planning Board to which O'Brien said that would not be done until construction documents are about 75 percent complete, if not later.

"Typically, planning boards and building inspectors aren't interested in plans that aren't complete," he explained, adding that if the blueprints are three-fourths complete, that means there are "still 25 percent of ‘t' crosses and ‘i' dots missing. Based on this schedule, probably in September or October, we will talk about getting on their agenda."

O'Brien admitted that the timeline is a "living document" that could change at any point in the project.

Library Searching for Temporary Home

Finding a temporary home for the library is something the staff and town of South Deerfield will have to figure out over the next 10 months, the Recorder noted. O'Brien told the library building committee that earlier projects have typically moved out in the bid phase, which is expected to occur in November, but there is often some variation.

"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 during 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," she said. "The library will adapt to the space that is given to us or that we're renting, within reason."

Preliminary ideas for the library's 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.

If necessary, the library may explore a request for proposals.

The next meeting of the Tilton Library Building Committee is set for Feb. 7.

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