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Agreement paves way for library funding

Date: 6/29/2010

June 30, 2010.

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

HOLYOKE -- Mayor Elaine Pluta and Holyoke Public Library Board President Terry Plum signed the necessary agreements on June 24 required by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) before the state funding for a greatly renovated library are released to the city.

The City Council must now give its final approval to the agreements.

The renovated library will be built with $4.375 million from the MBLC, $5.5 million from the city and $2.5 million from a capital campaign.

"Let me be clear," Pluta said, "I believe this project will be an important element in the revitalization of the city."

She said the renovated library would be a "state of the art library and learning center." She added the library would come in "at a price the city can afford."

Plum said the new library's impact on the city would be "huge." He noted there would be an economic impact during the construction with the creation of jobs. Once the library is completed, there will be a dramatic expansion of services.

Among the improvements, he noted the present 10 computer stations will grow to 40 or 50 and the young adult section, which currently occupies 100 square feet, will be 1,000 square feet.

The agreements signed last week include the transfer of ownership of the library building and land to the city, which is a necessary pre-condition for construction to move forward. An additional aspect of the agreement includes a change in the composition of the Board of Directors of the Holyoke Public Library Corporation to add six new members nominated by the mayor and approved by the City Council.

Both Plum and Pluta recognized Library Director Maria Pagan for her longtime advocacy for the renovation of the library. Pagan first began planning for a new library facility ten years ago.

Pagan said, "This is a very exciting day."

She said once the library is completed, its status would shift from being a private non-profit organization to a quasi-public city entity.