Upham's Corner Online

Uphams Corner Library (new) Project - a Little Progress

Posted: August 31, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

If anyone knows otherwise, let them come forward!  Upham's corner library

But as far as we can tell, the proposal to locate a new Uphams Corner Library into the St. Kevin's Development project is off the table, at least for now.  A new Upham's Corner Library has been a listed project in the City of Boston Library Capital budget for a decade though no progress towards that end goal has been made. 

To find the Upham's Corner Library project in the budget, go to:
  • City of Boston website
  • FYxx Budget
  • Volume 2
  • The Administration and Finance Cabinet
  • Library Department Project Profiles (listed alphabetically)  
  • Upham's Corner Library (new)
Each project is shown with a Project Mission and two funding entries:
  • Authorizations - the maximum amounts that can be spent on a project (though no money is sitting in the city coffers waiting to be spent)
  • Expenditures (Actual and Planned) - the real cash flow available for spending  
The FY11 budget shows the Upham's Corner Library (new) project as authorized but with no money set aside for spending.

BPL Budget UC Library FY11
The proposed FY12 budget shows the UC Library project has taken a tiny step forward with an allocation of $50,000 under Expenditures. 

The good news is that as of July 1, 2011 this allocation became an official part of the budget (voted on by the City Council and approved). 

After ten years of waiting, this is cause to celebrate.  Realistically, though, the amount is small and can only be considered 'seed' money to get the project underway.
BPL Budget UC Library FY12

According to the Boston Public Library, branch library planning begins with an open and transparent, community-based process that allows the library to gather community input and buy-in through a variety of feedback mechanisms including holding public meetings.  As of September 2011 no meetings have been held so no decision about the project has been made. 

The $50,000 of real money will be used primarily for planning - feasibility studies, drafting and design - the very preliminary stages of a new project.  As a "real" example of how a branch planning process works, take a look at the East Boston branch.

Despite assurances from the BPL regarding a transparent process, rumors abound about secret deals, an RFP going out in September, politicians operating under the radar and ear marks.  St. Kevin's, "they" say, is Upham's Corner's only hope for a new library (desperation).  Furthermore, City Capital (not the Library) ultimately controls spending based on the budget and who knows what they will do. 

Is it possible for a branch library to be built without community input and without sufficient allocated funds? 

Your guess is as good as anyone else's.  Our guess is:  not likely.  Library management has an important say into the process and they are committed to transparency and community involvement.  An example is the library's Compass process for soliciting community feedback.

To make sure, we put the question to the Boston Public Library's Communication Office and got this response.

June 22, 2011

Improving services in the Uphams Corner area has long been in the Boston Public Library's capital plans. Representatives of the BPL attended meetings early on to learn about the project you reference [St. Kevin's]. It is certainly a positive step that the funding for improving services to the Uphams Corner area made it into Mayor Menino's recommended capital plan for the coming fiscal year. We'll await the City Council's FY12 budget discussion and vote later this summer to find out whether this moves forward.
 
In preparation for potentially moving forward, the Boston Public Library is updating the 2002 program for Uphams Corner. A library programming study looks at the existing conditions of a library building; reviews the literature of current and future library standards; sets the goals and objectives for a future building; and then studies how books, shelves, furniture, mechanical equipment, and technology would fit in a new space.

This work is not specifically in relation to the St. Kevin's development.

With any library project, the BPL does a program study, a site study, and holds community meetings. When the Library gets to a point where potential for a new space is officially in the plans, there will most assuredly be a community process. Because we are not at that point, there have not been BPL-led community meetings.

The St. Kevin's development to which you refer and any associated discussion is wholly separate from the Boston Public Library's review of the 2002 Uphams Corner program.

Thanks,   

Mary Bender, Writer/Editor, Communications Office

Update: 

August 18, 2011

I have learned that the only change since [the June 22 email] is that the City Council did approve the capital plan.

Mary Bender

Ten years from now, will the Upham's Corner community be able to look at their new branch library and recall the open and transparent process that helped create it? 

We certainly hope so.

| Copyright © 2010-2014 Uphams Corner News - All Rights Reserved |