Last year at NHS, ambitious plans were made to extensively renovate the NHS/CPS library. The original plans included a relocation of the entrances, a cafe area, a makerspace, new lighting, flooring, paint, and furniture. The school also brought aboard Librarian Lori Robbins, as she has worked through a library renovation prior to her time at Nantucket High School. Engineer Matt MacEachern drew up project plans, and a bid was sent out. From a renovation perspective, being on an island is a huge drawback for NHS. The added cost of bringing over workers, tools, and supplies on the boat drastically inflates the cost of renovation. This led to two staggeringly overpriced bids, the first, proposed on May 23rd, being nearly $900,000. The makerspace and cafe were scrapped and the bid was sent again on July 11th. “All of the work by the Architect reducing the scope and changing the plans takes a lot of time. The advertising requirements set forth by the State also makes the bidding process take a lot of time which is why this could not be completed before school started,” explained Director of Facilities and Grounds Diane O’Neil. The bid came back too high again in July, so it was back to the drawing board.
One of the most expensive aspects of the renovation was the electrical work, which was bid at $177,000, but the school was able to minimize this loss by doing most of the lighting changes through National Grid’s Energy Incentive program. Due to the fact that Nantucket Public Schools has done multiple projects on campus in recent years, the school was able to use rebate money from past projects cutting lighting cost by nearly 90 percent. That total cost for the replacement of all of the library lights was $23,952.
Another $200,000 was spent by the school to upgrade the flooring, paint, and furniture. The construction is scheduled to be finished by October 1st, and the library is expected to be open for business by October 5th. The renovation has been an inconvenience to staff and students, with books being less accessible, but with the completion of the renovation on the horizon, students are getting ready for the unveiling. Senior Gideon Holdgate said “It looks like a more modern take on how our old library used to look.” Senior Jenna Genthner concurred, “I am very much looking forward to having a renovated space to study, and I think that the updated look will draw students into the space.” Holdgate also expressed concern about the furniture saying “it seems like they took appearance over comfort and practicality.” The new chairs were purchased from the a Massachusetts State procurement site called COMMBUYS and are cushionless metal chairs, but more comfortable furniture is on the way.
Though the renovation plans for the library fell far short of the original expectations, the school is hopeful that in future years some of the changes that were cut from the plans can be worked back in through subsequent renovations. Having spent $224,877 on the renovation, students and faculty are eagerly awaiting the opening to see how they like the new features, and whether or not the renovation was worth the hassle.
By Henry Dupont