ADAMS -- Town officials and library trustees are planning to propose close to $1 million in renovations to the Adams Free Library next year.

The work will likely be listed on the warrant for a special town meeting, tentatively slated for the March of 2014.

It would be the most expansive update to the library in decades, according to officials involved in its planning.

"The old girl needs a facelift," said Deborah Bruneau, the library’s director of 21 years. "We’re very excited about it."

The brick facade and main entrance of the building would be repaired and improved under the proposal, according to Bruneau and Town Administrator Jonathan Butler. The whole "envelope of the building" would be brought "up to par," Bruneau said.

The facade was last touched up in 1998, Bruneau said, but it has worn down since and needs work.

The roof would be completely replaced under the plan, hopefully ending a persistent leak. The unwelcome water was discovered when the reference room was converted into a children’s area in 2009, and it’s unclear how long it had been leaking prior.

"It always leaks the day after it rains," Bruneau said. "There’s some kind of issue with drainage."

The library also hopes to address some of the most frequent complaints of its patrons, including by improving accessibility.

The heavy, historic doors will now automatically open, Bruneau said. More steps into the building will be added to make the stairway easier to climb.

The renovations and repairs to the interior and exterior of the library are currently estimated between $700,000 and $1 million.

Officials plan to borrow the necessary funding, but roll most, if not all of new debt payments into the space left by expiring payments for renovations to Old Town Hall. The town spent $75,000 this year on a full assessment of the library by an engineer.

"It shouldn’t be too much of a burden on the town," Bruneau said.

Butler said these renovations would be the beginning of what he plans to be a 25-year cycle for major capital renovations to the library.

There hasn’t been a proposal of this breadth for renovations to the library since Bruneau began there, she said.

"I’ve been here over 21 years and I’ve been trying to get improvements ever since then," Bruneau said. Typically, she said, smaller work was done in piecemeal, but the current proposal will be voted on as a whole.

Bruneau credited town government for its support. The town’s Capital Planning Commission recently cited four library upgrades in its top 10 priority capital projects.

Bruneau is now working with community development officials promote the project to town residents, she said.

"It’s one of the real crown jewels of Park Street," Butler said.

Other potential items on a special meeting warrant include:

* The purchase of the former car wash at 4 Hoosac Street, for the purpose of converting it into an Adams Station for the proposed Berkshire Scenic Railway.

* A $150,000 expenditure to match a $400,000 federal grant, for the purpose of building the Adams station.

* A new solar zoning bylaw.

To reach Adam Shanks, email
ashanks@thetranscript.com