, Salem, MA

Local News

January 29, 2013

Repairs overdue at library

Proposal to borrow $3.1 million to fix historic building sparks debate


Holden agrees that some work can be held out for later — the windows, for example.

Councilor Arthur Athas complained that city officials had not itemized where the $3.1 million would go. He wondered why heating and air conditioning in the top-floor Sutton Room was included when the city only recently paid for HVAC work throughout the building.

“There has to be a little more detail presented to us,” he said. “I look at the building. You know money is tight. ... I don’t know what’s absolutely necessary.”

Even the mayor, who supports the expense, conceded, “I was a little disheartened when I saw this large number.”

The missing information, Bettencourt said, was an oversight.

“We’re finding one thing after another,” Liacos said. “In that old building, something is going to pop up.”

“This money is definitely needed,” Councilor Dave Gamache said.

Speaking during the regular council meeting, Mello said, “It seems to me this has gotten way out of control. They come up for bonds all the time. And it makes me wonder ... about the future of libraries.”

He asked if they would become outdated in an age when people access information at the touch of a button.

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