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Upham's Corner closer to getting a new library branch

Posted by Cara Bayles  March 14, 2011 04:17 PM

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The city's redevelopment board has approved plans for a $32.7 million housing development, which includes a proposed 6,000 square-foot library that would replace the current public library, for Upham's Corner.

It was the first hurdle developers and library officials had to contend with. The proposal to take over a new space could be fraught with controversy, especially since the future of four branches slotted for closure last year amid budget cuts is still unknown.

The branches—Faneuil in Brighton, Dorchester's Lower Mills branch, Orient Heights in East Boston, and Washington Village in South Boston’s Old Colony housing development—were given $350,000 in one-time spending from the state, to delay their closure until the end of the fiscal year in June. Now, library officials report a $580,000 budget gap for next year.

Gina Perille, spokeswoman for the Boston Public Library, said the Upham's Corner proposal was part of the library's capital plan for the next four fiscal years, but library officials are still holding their breath to see whether the city will incorporate the proposal into its overall capital plan.

"The Boston Public Library has been involved in several meetings on this project and appreciates the potential for greater services to the community in a new location and space," Perille said in an email. "Improvements to the Upham's Corner branch have been included in past Boston Public Library capital plans so the need has certainly been previously identified."

The proposal for building the library into the 80-unit housing development came out through neighborhood input at planning meetings surrounding the proposed apartments, which will be built on land previously occupied by St. Kevin's parish. Developers hope to begin construction of the project, which the mayor's office has dubbed "a gateway to Upham's Corner," this winter.

E-mail Cara Bayles at carabayles@gmail.com.

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