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WESTHAMPTON — Andrea Pichette, a member of the Friends of Westhampton Public Library, came before the Select Board March 26 to present a plan for better access to the library’s back yard, the area where programming is often staged.

Pichette offered board members a visual layout of the proposed improvements, which include a walkway compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, or ADA, and other upgrades. The mock up was drawn by a student at the Conway School of Landscape Design. The mock up includes a pergola and other improvements that are not under consideration for the current project, but may be pursued in the future.

Pichette said there was six or seven people – and the whole town – involved in the planning.

“With anything in Westhampton, the whole town becomes involved,” Pichette said. “Everybody has some knowledge, everybody has some history, everybody has some skill that they can bring to it. We began by asking questions of so many people who had already worked on the library, what was there, what was possible, what did they see as a potential.”

The proposal began with the Friends’ desire to make it easier for those with mobility impairments to get down to the flat grassy area where programs are presented. Volunteers terraced the lawn area in past years, there are flats and steps down, but the lawn has a slope and still presents a challenge to the impaired.

The Friends began meeting last summer to plan the back yard upgrade. Initially, lighting was added. Railings were incorporated. A sidewalk, the most visible change, was adopted for the parking and rear areas. The walk will run the entire length of the parking lot and descend into the terraced areas.

The path of the sidewalk will consume two spaces in the parking lot, those closest to the building. Parking was already limited to seven or eight spaces. Selectboard member Scott Johndrow suggested the church across North Road may provide replacement spaces.

Pichette said the Friends discussed reducing the cost to the town by performing some of the landscaping. According to the mock up, pollinator beds, serviceberry plants and junipers will beautify the walkway. Irises will be planted in a wet area, closer to Tor Hill Road. Stepping stones will lead from the parking lot down to a set of natural stone steps. The stone steps will lead from the new sidewalk to the programming areas.

“It was the only way possible that we could find,” Pichette said. “If you went around the north side it was just so long. And that is where the traffic is.”

Town Administrative Assistant Douglas Finn commented the project would have to go out to bid. The commonwealth requires that any project over $10,000 is required to be publicized for commercial contractors to bid on. The walkway, when completed, will run to the north and south of the building for several hundred feet – but only the walkway to the east and south of the building are included in the current proposal.

Select Board Chair Maureen Dempsey asked if the upgrades would be usable only during the summer months. Dempsey also asked, “This is a project you’re planning, but you want the town to put in the money?”

Discussion revealed the mock up was drawn by a Conway School student and could not be used for any formal purposes. Pichette acknowledged the Friends will have to secure a professionally prepared cartoon of the work. Then, according to Finn, the project could be submitted for consideration by the town’s Capital Planning Committee.

“We are prepared to go get a professional design,” Pichette said. The Berkshire Design Group may be tapped for that task, Pichette said, and “We’d like to bring those specific pieces back to you.”

The discussion was continued to a future meeting when more is known about the final project and a suitable design is available.

dpruyne@thereminder.com | + posts