There were a few tense moments at the Library Trustees’ meeting on Tuesday night when it became clear that Bedford Director of Facilities Ron Scaltreto would not be in attendance. At their October meeting, the Trustees had taken a formal vote to request his presence at each Trustee meeting to keep board members informed about the progress of the HVAC renovation project. Several trustees were visibly upset and one even threatened to leave the meeting when there was no one from the Facilities Department at the meeting.
Library Director Richard Callaghan explained that Scaltreto was obligated to attend the School Committee meeting (he reports to that Committee), which was also taking place on Tuesday night.
The Trustees’ concerns stem from the lengthy delay between the initial $2.5M funding of the HVAC project that was part of the Capital Expenditure budget at the Annual Town Meeting of March 2021, until the present. They continue to feel that the Library was “put off” in favor of other municipal projects underway at the same time.
Emily Mitchell, the Select Board liaison to the Library Trustees, explained that the Police Department renovation was already underway when the Library HVAC project was approved and that had preference. The “Covid years” also took their toll as labor and material cost increases outpaced the original appropriation.
Still, the Trustees continued to seek reassurance that their ongoing questions about the project would be addressed. After lengthy discussion, they voted to “Empower the Chair of the Library Trustees to write to the Chair of the Select Board to request the presence of Ron Scaltreto at their meetings, either for a half hour prior to their regular meeting time, or at another mutually convenient time.” The motion passed unanimously.
Scaltreto has already said that he plans send the project out for bid soon after the first of the new year. From his long experience in procurement, he said that the holiday period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is not a propitious time for going out for bids. He feels he will receive better bids by waiting.
The timeline, tentatively, would be acceptance of bids by March and commencement of work soon thereafter. The job will probably run for 13 to 15 months. The Trustees’ aim is to be constantly informed about that timeline to ensure against slippage in the schedule.
Trustee Elizabeth Hacala reminded the Board that the recent Special Town Meeting unanimously approved supplemental funding of $1.4M to make up the shortfall in the original appropriation of $2.5M for the HVAC work. Director Callaghan, referencing the long delay in addressing the HVAC issue, said, “The past is the past. Let’s go forward and get this job done.”
Long-time Employee Retires
Administrative Assistant Janelle Ranney will retire on Nov. 30. Ranny has worked closely with the Director for many years, assisting with a variety of tasks: monitoring the budget, keeping financial records, preparing the Library’s report to the Board of Library Commissioners, and supporting website maintenance, among others. The position is now posted on the town’s website.
Children’s Room Update
Although Nicole Monk is the only Children’s Librarian currently on staff, the program is being covered with the help of several staff members. Assistant Library Director Noreen O’Gara reports, “We have a number of talented folks on staff who are working steady shifts. Sue Voet, who worked in Bedford as a full-time children’s librarian, is here several mornings. Rachel Hertzberg, who will graduate from Simmons with a double Master’s in Library Science and Children’s Literature in May 2024, is doing two full days a week here.”
O’Gara said the timing isn’t quite right for hiring a children’s librarian now. The Library plans to post the position at the end of March as graduation approaches and students are more serious about getting a job.
[Editor’s Note 11/16/2023: Ron Scaltreto is Bedford Director of Facilities not DPW Director as originally published.]