JP Library gets $75k in fixes; renovation on hold

SUMNER HILL—The Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library (BPL) will receive $75,000 from the City for improvements in the next fiscal year, $50,000 short of what BPL trustees requested, but a full renovation remains on hold.

That follows a tantalizing hint dropped by Mayor Thomas Menino in May, suggesting that the branch would get much more than that, but only after meeting with the JP Branch’s Friends group.

“We heard nothing from City Hall until I told them I had let the press know that,” Friends of the JP Branch Library co-chair Gretchen Grozier told the Gazette. “I have to think the strategy was to hint at a renovation and just shut folks up.”

The Friends of the JP Branch Library have been requesting $8.5 million for a complete renovation since 2006, when a study and design were completed. The project still remains on the City’s capital budget, await funds to be allocated.

The $75,000 are meant to address areas like the circulation desk, shelving, electrical systems, accessibility, and other items, Perille said.

Instead, the JP Branch, located at 12 Sedgwick St., along with the Roslindale Branch, will serve as pilot locations for a system-wide facilities audit.

“Those two locations are first in line for when the audit begins,” Perille said.

The branch facilities audit is a system-wide assessment of the physical conditions of all the branches, BPL spokesperson Gina Perille told the Gazette last week. The audit will inform future capital project planning.

The audit is planned for Fiscal Year 2013 and is in the capital budget for $440,500. It will begin in the fall, Perille said, and may continue into FY14.

“I do not think it will even consider the 2006 renovation plan, so thousands of City dollars and hours are flushed, not to mention the [time the] community volunteered,” Grozier said.

“Even though the Jamaica Plain Branch expansion study is six years old, it will be a relevant resource in the discussion as the library meets and talks with the Jamaica Plain Branch Friends, design professionals, and others on preferred service improvements,” Perille said.

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