JP Branch renovation budget increases

April 25, 2014
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A long-delayed major renovation to the Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library (BPL) had its budget unexpectedly boosted to $10 million, pending the City Council’s approval in June, City Councilor Matt O’Malley announced at an April 9 meeting to discuss the renovation’s design.

The previous budget was set at just under $8.5 million. The decision to expand the budget was proposed earlier on the day of the meeting, O’Malley said.

Preliminary designs for the proposed renovation of the 12 Sedgwick St. branch created during a feasibility study would create a new glass-encased 700-square-foot computer room, a patio and a new main entrance, all of which would face South Street. It would also add an elevator and upgrade the entrance and other facilities.

The designers, Utile Design Team, will take the preliminary design plans and continue to work with the community through the spring to finesse them.

The project goals include: enhancing and expanding the children’s and adult areas, creating a designated area for young adults; improving technology resources; improving the multi-purpose room and expanding its programming; creating exhibit space; and improving access to all the branch’s floors and amenities.

Designing the building and its interiors will continue through September, with monthly community meetings. The next meeting is scheduled for May 21, at 6 p.m., at the JP Branch.

Friends of the Jamaica Plain Branch Library co-chair Don Haber suggested that adding a 3-D printer to a potential “maker space” would make the branch more inviting to teens and young adults. The proposed maker space would be dedicated to patrons using crafts and technology to create things.

“That’s exactly the way to approach it,” design team members said at the meeting. “We see the opportunity of these additions” to make the new branch comfortable and inviting, they said.

“We don’t want it to look like a museum. We want it to have stately bones with comfortable furnishings,” the team said.

The designers also said they were interested in revitalizing the Sedgwick Street entrance, though it is yet unclear how that may happen.

The renovation will cause the branch to be closed for 12 to 18 months. That closure has not been scheduled, but it will not take place before 2015.

More information on the renovation will be posted at bpl.org/compass/tag/jamaica-plain.

CORRECTION: This article has been edited to correct the status of the project’s budget increase.