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Coming soon - details about the Wheeler Memorial Library building project


We're excited to get this information out to you ASAP, but our website is not as excited - the PDFs and images we want to have here have caused the entire library website to crash more times than your humble site admin can count! 


What's coming soon:

Meeting agendas and minutes, a future meeting calendar, and a better layout!

Next Building Committee Meeting is: Wednesday, March 29, 6:30PM at the Moore Leland Library

What we have now:

A PDF of the most current building design

A PDF of the most current 3D model

This Q&A!

Question: Who is on the Building Committee?

Answer: The Building Committee currently has 6 members: Jessica Magelaner, (the library director and committee chair), Joanne Woodcock, Deborah Kent, Candace Cross, Robin Shtulman, Maria Bull, and Pamela Moore.

Question: Why are you applying for a grant now? Why not wait another 6-8 years?

Answer: The money might not be there in another 6-8 years! Currently, the grants are only awarded every 6 years, but it's looking more and more likely that they will be pushed back to 8 years after this round, and with less money to go around. (Governor Baker cut 98 million dollars from this fiscal year budget in early December - money is tight everywhere!) When we were first approved for this grant back in 2003, the state was prepared to reimburse us for 80% of the project costs. Now, in 2016, we're likely to get 50% of the project cost reimbursed, and the work has only gotten more expensive over the last 13 years, The longer we wait, the more it will cost the town. Applying for a grant now is our best shot at giving Orange an up-to-date, up-to-code library while minimizing the cost to the town.

Question: Up-to-code? What's wrong with the library the way it is now?

Answer: The library isn't handicapped accessible, and there's no effective way to make it accessible. We have one small bathroom for staff and public, we have very limited programming space and quiet study space, our children's room is subject to leaks and mildew issues, our children's programming room is also our storage/public meeting/staff room space, our teen space is just a corner with a few tables, (and it shares a room with our public internet computers!), repeated serious leaks from the roof have been damaging the building for many years, there is no part of the library available to the town or public without a staff member present, and no part of the library is ADA-compliant.

Question: Those are pretty good reasons, but don't we also need a new waste water plant and a new elementary school? Not that I don't love the library, but aren't those more of a priority?

Answer: Those are definitely important projects! However, the library needs to be addressed at some point, and this is our best shot at getting a grant to help mitigate the costs to the town. The library has not been renovated in over 100 years, and the longer we put off renovations, the more expensive they will be. It's also important to note that the trustees have already set aside $200,000 of the library's trusts to help cover the costs to the town, and both the trustees and the building committee have plans in the works for further fundraisers.

Question: Why do we need a new library in Orange when there's a brand-new library in Athol?

Answer: It's fantastic that Athol has a new library, and Orange deserves one too! One of the great things about the Wheeler Memorial Library is that it's right downtown, within easy walking and driving distance for a lot of residents. Also, remember that investing in our community sends a signal to developers and home buyers that we care about our town and its future. (It is not a coincidence that) when Athol citizens voted "yes" to renovate their library and school, there was a dramatic upturn in new business and increased confidence from existing businesses! Also, should physical neglect or lack of town financial support cause Wheeler Library to close, the Athol library trustees have been very clear that Orange residents will no longer be allowed to borrow materials through the Athol Library. Athol and Orange are part of a consortium called C/W Mars. We share materials with each other, and with every other library in the consortium. If Orange fails to take care of its library to the point where it no longer has resources to share, then other libraries, (and their taxpayers!), have no good reason to continue to share with Orange.

Question: What did the vote at the special town meeting on December 10th accomplish? What is Orange now committed to? What are we voting for at the special town meeting on April 1?

Answer: The vote on the 10th gave us your support to file an application with the MBLC to try to get a grant. A “Yes” vote on April 1 will give the MBLC the official go-ahead to process our application and consider us for a grant. Orange will still not be committed to accepting the grant; we'll ask for that once we find out if the MBLC is even willing to give us a grant. (Filing the application does not guarantee Orange a grant, though we think we have a pretty good chance!) The town cannot commit to accepting a grant from the state until we know how much they're willing to offer us, and they can't decide how much to offer us until you tell them that you want them to look over our application.

Question: What if we don't get a grant?

Answer: Then the building project will have to wait for the next grant round, if there is one. The trustees of the library and the building committee all live in Orange. They know the town can't support the full cost of the renovation without help from the state. The town will have to do major maintenance work on the building; the roof is leaking badly again, and there are serious plumbing issues that need to be addressed.

Question: This Q&A didn't answer my question, who should I contact?

Answer: E-mail Jessica at director@orangelib.org, or come to a Building Committee meeting! We love seeing new faces at our meetings. And we want to hear from everyone, even if you're not sure whether you support the project or not!