Library District Taskforce Liveblog

Update: Steve’s article is now posted to the Telegram website [$]

4:30pm – meeting called to order

In attendance – Judy Finkel, Kevin Dowd, Jim Kersten, Susan Gately, Donna McGrath, Josh Perro, Dante Comparetto, Wei, Denise McGinley, Mora, the new PR person (Elizabeth), and from the press me and Steve Foskett.

Discussion of the WB Journal article.

Just entered – Chris from the Friends Board and Joe Borbone from DPW&P, Paul Dell’Aquila

Judy has brief introduction of what’s happened at previous meetings.

Jim Kersten – when they initially brought up Wyman-Gordon parcel, they said low price was $15 million — now that slot parlor’s coming in, $4-6 million.  Would rather see investment in hockey there.

[Note that this liveblog will cease at 5:15pm when the WiFi gets shut off]

Kersten – when state did Harding Street redevelopment, they skipped over Kelley Square.  Likely not in anyone’s interest to redo that intersection.

Sue Gately – “I love it” (that is, Kelley Square)

Sue Gately, continued, on theatre district – finds it a reach to call it a theatre district, far from a theatre district, sounds pretentious, same with library district.  What concerns/interests her — city’s support for the library (financial, owning building) – function and role in community is so huge – to limit the municipal parking to the extent we would be redeveloping area – there is no other municipal parking nearby – speaks to arrangement of municipal library and municipal parking, should be hand-in-hand.

Kersten – ties into metered spots on Federal Street, which would also be eliminated in their plan.

Gately – thinks the two (parking/library) go hand-in-hand.  What we do with our municipal properties tells a story about what the city thinks of itself.

Chris Weinrobe of the Friends – not in favor of rink, but was given to understand that they’d park two blocks away, but how can they enforce that those people park two blocks away?

Weinrobe says further that this would not bring in pedestrian traffic downtown.

Dianne Bruce enters.

Gately talks about the need for longer-term parking and also the need for parking that allows for a quicker turnover.

Gately and Kersten talk further about when the lot is gone it’s gone.

Employee parking is $36/month.  Note that this lot is also used for city hall parking.

This would be more in a private lot, and the cost would be greater for city employees who currently park at the lot.

Kevin Dowd discusses that the parking they propose would be ok if the district came together like THAT, but we all know it won’t be.

They started the process with the WBDC early in the summer, but nothing has changed in the plans as a result of the discussions.

Discussion of Craig Blais’ interest in Worcester State.

Kersten – if Wyman-Gordon were affordable, the colleges would probably use that.

Kersten further discusses the things that make a hockey arena successful – none of which has to do with investing in the exterior of the building.

Gately – “if the city wants the demise of the library, then” they’re going into this with clear eyes.

Donna reiterates the need for a charette.

Dante feels like mixed-use development in the lot could also include a municipal lot.

Dante – feels that in further strategic plan discussion, will find more need for space in the library, and mixed-use could assist with that.

Chris – has anyone talked with the funeral home across the way?

Kersten – city has shown a commitment to the library over the past three years.  We do have a friend in the city.

Talk of eminent domain in the Wyman-Gordon.

Kersten asks Borbone for process of stages in moving lot from municipal to private hands.

Parking lot is controlled by Off-Street Parking Board, which is executive and they have control of it.

Off-Street Parking Board would have to vote that it is no longer needed for its intended purpose.

City Manager would then likely need to bring it to Council.

If Off Street Parking Board declined, that would probably not be the end of it.

Kersten says it would likely need to then go as a home rule petition to overrule the Off Street Parking Board.

Judy asks about use of lot.

Borbone – “largest, most successful lot we have” in regards to number of customers serviced, library is largest customer, but also serves good part of downtown.

Judy – so in absence of lot, where would those people go?

Borbone – good question

Donna – asks Borbone about statistics for the lot.

Borbone – they can show how much money the lot has brought on a yearly basis, and could probably make estimates.  Also, show monthly passholders.

Donna has question about whether cameras could look at the lot.  Wei does not think that they can go that far.

Chris — but how many FAMILIES, not just cars, use it.  Patrons often come in groups.

Borbone has not met with anyone at city hall nor the WBDC.  “You guys are five months ahead of me.  Because you are our largest customer, the Off Street Parking Board” would probably like a hearing with library board members testifying in front of them.

Dianne Bruce – what is different about this one versus the apartment building they were going to build?

More – thought the problem was with the ground.

Deb Packard enters.

The recollection of the crowd is that the developer pulled out.

Judy – sounds like next move would be to invite Off Street Parking Board to a future meeting.

Donna – in meantime, perhaps develop a survey and talk to patrons.

Kersten – can we start using social media a little more?

Gately – some care needs to be taken with that.  You have to be wary of unintended consequences.  Mindful of stirring a pot in that way, but also think of way to do that.

Donna asks whether patrons would feel the same worry that the library board is feeling.

Gately emphasizes that board are patrons as well.

Wei – can they provide minutes or articles to patrons.  This is library board, not library.

Gately – patrons don’t know and don’t care the difference between the board, the foundation, friends, etc.

Dante – start PR campaign and start organizing public charette.  PR campaign would culminate in charette.

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Kersten – two activities – educating Off-Street Parking Board and City Council.

Kevin offers to draft a letter

Deb had a lengthy conversation with Tim last week – WBDC and city are working on a master plan and will have a public forum in February.

Kersten says that the WBDC is driving that.

Paul – that could be a good opportunity to load the meeting.  They may end up not writing the final report.

Kersten – whenever something gets brought out in public, how many times have you seen the train change course?

Dante – fine to do much of the organizing on this.  They will need at least four weeks to do it.

So – in sum:

Would like public input forum to elicit ideas from the public.

Request Off-Street Parking Board put this on their agenda and invite the library board to attend.

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