Disappointment has turned to relief as a $400,000 promise has made it to print in Mayor Martin Walsh’s final Capital Budget.
The Mayor’s Office, Councilor Ed Flynn and the Friends of the South End Library (FOSEL) confirmed that the once-missing commitment had now been included in the Capital Budget.
There are two expenditures in the Budget, one for this year that is a $100,000 planning study. Then, for the 2020-2023 Capital Budget, an expenditure of $400,000 has now been included.
Many in FOSEL were extremely disappointed last month that Library Director David Leonard only included the $100,000 study in his budget request. FOSEL members believed that the $400,000 had been promised, and they said they needed it to help raise additional private funds.
Now, all of that strife has been put to bed, and Southenders were happy to hear the change.
“During the budget submission and review process, Southenders were disappointed to learn that any funding support for Phase 2 was not included in the final BPL budget submission,” said Steve Fox and Marleen Neinhuis this week in a statement. “The voices of many Southenders and organizations were immediately raised in an effort to restore that funding. We are delighted to let the entire South End community know that just last week capital funding of $400,000 was restored in the FY 2019 budget for Phase Two of the South End library’s interior renovation.”
Fox and FOSEL said that they believed Mayor Walsh had been instrumental in making the inclusion in his final Capital Budget, and they were thankful.
“South End neighbors should know that Mayor Walsh personally ensured that the funding was restored to the budget,” said Fox. “The Mayor, who visited the library several times since his election and each time pledged his full support for the branch’s renovation as well as for the redesign of the library’s adjacent green space, Library Park, worked every angle of the budget with his staff and with the City Council to restore this essential funding. When both library and park projects were suddenly delayed due to budget issues, both were put back on track due to the Mayor’s support for these two important and long-neglected civic spaces in the South End.”
Mayor Walsh told the Sun that the library was important to him, and he was glad to make sure the project – which is considered critical for public safety of children – was included.
“The South End library is a very important asset to the neighborhood, and I am proud that we are investing in its future for our residents,” said Mayor Walsh. “In this year’s Capital Plan, we are designating both initial funding for a study that will help determine the scope and scale of any future investments, while also proactively preparing for the next steps that will follow that study. I have made it very clear that I am fully committed to seeing this important project through, and I look forward to working together with the community in planning are preparing for the new future of the South End library.”
The $400,000 in additional funding is allocated in future fiscal years (FY20-23) for additional interior improvements. The intent is to begin the study in FY19, while maintaining available funding in future fiscal years once the study is complete. The money is to be combined with a very successful and robust private fundraising campaign that has already generated $50,000.
Another key voice in the matter, Fox said, was Councilor Ed Flynn – who has shown a remarkable commitment to the South End during his first year in office.
“It was a team effort with my fellow city councilors at large,” he said this week. “We worked collectively with the Mayor’s Office and the South End community. I give credit to FOSEL and the neighborhood for advocating effectively on behalf of a wonderful library. It’s a great accomplishment. The Library helps so many people in the community and so many use it. I’m happy to represent the South End and to help the library any way I can.”
Fox and Flynn credited the work of the community, Councilors Annissa Essaibi George, Michelle Wu, Michael Flaherty and Ayanna Pressley. Mayoral Liaison Faisa Sharif was also credited with working to make sure the issue was at the forefront.
Leonard has reached out to the community to plan for the next steps in the project, and meetings are expected to take place soon about Phase 2 and the planning study.