To the Editor:
After several years of discussion and investigation, the Trustees of the Milton Public Library are seeking approval at Town Meeting to sell the Kidder Branch property.
In recent weeks, the Trustees have met with the Warrant Committee and the Select Board to highlight the Trustees’ process and explain the reasons for this decision.
The prime reason is that it does not support the long term strategic plan or advance the mission of the Library.
In addition, maintaining the building is both a financial and staffing burden for the library and other town departments.
The Kidder Branch closed as a library in 1996 and has been used for different purposes since that time.
The Trustees maintain fiduciary responsibility for the Kidder and decided in January 2015 that they should begin work on a strategic vision for the property that supports the intentions of the gift, i.e. “for the benefit of the library.”
The board created a timeline and communicated this to the current tenant of the Kidder (Discovery Schoolhouse, Inc.) in February 2015 and the Select Board in March 2015.
The Trustees sought out town leaders, town departments, community groups, and the public to engage in discussions about potential uses for the property. Some of these groups included the Select Board, the Planning Board, the Parks Department, the Affordable Housing Committee, the Town Planner, and the School Committee.
In addition, the Trustees engaged community groups (the Milton Food Pantry, the Milton Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, MATV, and Milton Hospital) to discuss uses such as a teen center, a food pantry, or office space.
The library also hosted numerous tours and five public forums to solicit input and keep the community apprised of progress.
After all of this research, the Trustees voted to sell the Kidder Branch property. The Trustees came to the conclusion that the property does not support library services in Milton or the mission of the Library.
The income from the property does not always fully make up for expenses incurred to maintain the building and staff time used for some maintenance projects.
As agreed by the Select Board and the Town Administrator, the property does not fit the needs of any town departments.
Selling the property will allow the Library Trustees and the Library Director to focus their efforts on the still understaffed main library and free up consolidated facilities to focus more on other town property.
The sale of the property requires a vote of Town Meeting. This vote will authorize the Trustees to sell the property.
According to the deed of Nathaniel Kidder, who donated the property, the Library Trustees are the only entity that can sell the property and the proceeds from the sale must support library services for the residents of Milton.
The Trustees are working with Town Counsel to draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the sale of the property. They have obtained a formal appraisal and market analysis confirming the town’s assessment of approximately $1.2 million.
According to state regulations, the RFP will be made public and the Trustees will appoint a committee to review the applications and recommend finalists to the full board.
The Trustees are still discussing the use of proceeds from the possible sale, but anticipate that funds will go toward the continued maintenance of the renovated main library and increasing funding for library collections, both print and digital.
Here is some background Information. The Kidder building is located at 101 Blue Hills Parkway. The Kidder Branch was built in 1929 to serve as a neighborhood library. The building is approximately 4,000 square feet and sits on about half an acre of property. The Kidder Branch was in service from 1929 through 1996.
During the ensuing years, the building was used by the Milton Public Schools’ KEDS program and the Council on Aging. The building was briefly used again by the library during the construction of the main Library. Since 2009, the property has been leased by the Discovery Schoolhouse.
In 2009, the Trustees worked with Town Counsel to draft an RFP for the leasing of the property and entered into negotiations with the Discovery Schoolhouse. The income from the Kidder rent is placed in a revolving fund that is restricted to building maintenance and capped on an annual basis.
Please feel free to contact the the chair of the Trustees (John Folcarelli), the chair of the Kidder Subcommittee (Kristine Hodlin), or Library Director Will Adamczyk to answer questions prior to Town Meeting.
Board of Library Trustees