New Library to Get Needed Funds

The proceeds from the City’s sale of general obligation bonds last week will help fund the new library on Bremen Street in East Boston.

Mayor Thomas Menino announced that Boston has sold $232.1 million of general obligation bonds through a competitive sale. The bond sale secured an interest rate of 2.46 percent to fund $122 million in new capital projects that includes the new Eastie library.

“Our proven fiscal management has helped to keep Boston one of the strongest municipalities in the country, despite the challenges we’ve all faced over the last several years,” said Menino. “This latest investment in our public assets takes advantage of extremely low interest rates and makes it more affordable to support the projects that improve our neighborhoods. Together with all of the ongoing private development in the city, we’re well positioned for the years ahead.”

Last year Eastie was put on a waitlist for state funding to build the new, state-of-the-art library. However, Menino decided to go forward with the plan and said the city would foot the bill if state funding did not become a reality.

The city applied for a grant of $8 million to help defer the $11.3 million price tag on the new Eastie library from the Massachusetts Board Library Commissioners (MBLC).

In July 2011, the MBLC announced that the Eastie project was placed 15th on a wait list of 15 other cities and towns seeking money from the board.

Menino said he would remain committed to see that the project gets done with or without state funding.

“This project has always been a priority of mine in East Boston,” said the Mayor. “I made a commitment to the people of East Boston and I plan to follow up on my commitment even if the state doesn’t come through.”

Menino said it is important for residents of Eastie to enjoy a state-of-the-art facility that will meet the needs and growing role that a neighborhood library will play in the future.

“We are at a time when bookstores are going out of business so people are looking to libraries as the single source of books in neighborhoods across the city,” he said.

If the city relied only on a state funding commitment it could have according to sources, held up the plans to construct the new library in the neighborhood for over a year.

Construction of the 14,600 square foot, $11.3 million library is slated to begin in spring of 2012 and end in the summer of 2013 with the branch opening in late summer or early fall of 2013.

The lack of state funds, which would have made up the lion’s share of funding for the project, threatened to push the project back to 2014.

“It was tough but we found ways to keep this project on track,” said Menino.

Deputy Director of the city’s Capital Construction Division Joseph Mulligan said despite the loss of state funding, the Mayor was prepared to move forward with the project.

“The mayor said, ’Under no condition are we going to stop on this project,’” said Mulligan at the last community meeting regarding the library project. “He said, ’We have to move forward on this.’ The mayor made a full commitment to moving forward on the project without hesitation, and if there’s an issue on reimbursement, we will wait the state out.”

The new library is being designed by William Rawn Associates. William Rawn Associates is the same team responsible for the new Mattapan branch finished last year. There, architects from William Rawn Associates created an up-too-date library facilities, an open reading room, and an outdoor courtyard configuration. The sustainable building merges indoor and outdoor spaces and had redefined the experience of the library there.

Architects Mark Oldham and Carla Ceruzzi have already unveiled a prototype of the Eastie library that is a sleek non-linear building with a wave-like roof, open floor plans, huge windows that overlook the Bremen Street Park and outdoor classroom and reading spaces.

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