Library renovation estimate rises
Town officials still hope 115-year-old Fogg building will be ready for reopening next summer

By Christian Schiavone
The Patriot Ledger

The estimated cost to renovate the interior of the Fogg Library has increased by $500,000, but town officials are hopeful they can find the money in time to reopen the historic building next summer as planned, or soon after.

The town initially estimated that repairing water damage, renovating the building and making it handicappedaccessible would cost between $800,000 and $900,000. It has already set aside $690,000 for the project and hopes to begin work in the fall.

But an architectural firmhired by the town has put the price tag at about $1.4 million after finding additional things that need doing, such as upgrading the electrical wiring, Library Director Rob MacLean said.

“Once they got into the nitty-gritty, the real experts came up with this number, which is probably more accurate,” MacLean said, referring to the $1.4 million figure.

The library, in the heart of Columbian Square, closed in 2005 because of water damage caused by a badly leaking roof. In 2010, the town completed a $1.7 million project to repair the exterior of the building to eliminate the leaks, but the interior still needs work.

The building was built in 1897 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The bulk of the money set aside for the project – $400,000 – came from money paid to the town by South Shore Tri-Town Development Corp., the agency overseeing the SouthField development, to mitigate the project’s impact on the town. The rest came from Community Preservation Act funds and a $40,000 state grant.

The town’s Community Preservation Act account contains revenue from a property-tax surcharge and matching money from the state.

MacLean said the town will look at possibly using federal grants to help make up some of the shortfall, and will likely go back to the council for additional Community Preservation Act and mitigation money.

Councilor Michael Smart, a longtime advocate of funding for the library renovation, said he’s confident the council will approve additional funding once a source is identified.

“I’m committed 100 percent to making sure that building is restored and reopened as soon as possible,” he said.

MacLean said the work will still probably begin in the fall, but may take until next fall to finish.

Christian Schiavone may be reached at .