- May 25, 2006
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LinkThe Globe said:Kennedy Library sets plan to grow
US-funded wing would hold items from senator, kin
By Andrea Estes, Globe Staff | June 7, 2006
The John F. Kennedy Library is making plans to break ground next year on a $22 million wing that would house Senator Edward M. Kennedy's papers, the largest expansion in the 27-year history of the library, officials said yesterday.
Officials said they need to expand because they have run out of space and have been forced to store important documents and artifacts off site.
The two-story, 30,000-square-foot addition would be built on the north side of the library, under plans that would add 1 1/2 acres to the 9 1/2 -acre site. In 1991, the library added the 21,800-square-foot Stephen E. Smith Center, a two-story addition, to the original presidential library, which opened in 1979 encompassing 115,000 square feet .
The new collection will also include letters, documents, and other artifacts that belonged to Kennedy relatives and members of the John F. Kennedy presidential administration.
State Senator John Hart, a South Boston Democrat, said he will file a bill this week to allow the federal government to buy 66,000 square feet of vacant land from the University of Massachusetts at Boston for the library.
As the plan is now proposed, the National Archives and Records Administration would pay UMass $2 million in federal money for the land and spend $20 million more to build the wing. The appropriations require approval by Congress, which has already funded $2 million for design costs. Library officials met Monday night with community leaders to detail the plan.
Meeting with the Columbia-Savin Hill Civic Association, John Shattuck, chief executive officer of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, ticked off what the project would bring to the community, including the paving of a heavily used harbor path along Columbia Point and an increase in educational programming. The civic association voted unanimously to endorse the project.
``Senator Kennedy has been viewed as one of American history's greatest senators and one of the most important politicians in the history of Massachusetts," said Bill Walczak, a member of the association. ``Having his papers and having scholars be able to study in Dorchester is an important thing for Dorchester pride."
The Globe reported in 2003 that a library expansion was envisioned as part of a proposed new Center for the Study of the Senate at UMass-Boston that would eventually be named after Edward Kennedy. The center was to feature a new academic program based on the senator's collection of papers accumulated over more than 40 years in the Senate and a replica of the Senate chamber, officials said.
Since the idea was first proposed in 2003, no action has been taken on the Center for the Study of the Senate, but UMass officials said the proposal is not dead.
``My expectation is that at some point it will go forward," said Robert Connolly, UMass spokesman. ``Our board has taken a vote expressing our interest in making property available for the Center for the Study of the Senate."
Most of the new library wing would be storage space, not generally accessible to the public, with one floor underground. The addition will house Edward Kennedy's existing and ``anticipated papers" he will donate at a later date, including many documents currently stored at a regional records center in Waltham, according to a description of the proposal provided by library officials.
In addition, the wing would store papers belonging to Kennedy family members and members of JFK's presidential administration, which are currently kept in off-site storage facilities. Also in the new addition would be artifacts and memorabilia including such items as rocking chairs used by JFK, his wardrobe, and gifts of state, Shattuck said.
Among relatives whose belongings would be kept in the addition are Robert F. Kennedy, Eunice and Sargent Shriver, Jean Kennedy, and Steven Smith.
The wing would also contain ``a very small, but very badly needed" exhibition space, as well as an area for educational programming, according to Tom McNaught, deputy director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
A 2001 study by the National Archives and Records Administration found a ``severe shortage" of storage space at the Library, declaring its cramped conditions the worst among the 11 presidential libraries. It also found that the library lacked temporary public exhibition space and adequate space for educational programming.
Hart originally offered the measure as a Senate budget amendment, but withdrew it, opting to file a separate bill authorizing the sale. He said yesterday he expects it to be approved.
``We want to do anything we can do to assist the Kennedy Library to draw more people," Hart said. ``To have the presidential papers there and Ted Kennedy papers there would be something to treasure."
``Because the federal government has the responsibility for preservation of these materials, our hope is they will face the responsibility to fund this addition," McNaught said. ``It's not a done deal, but there certainly is an acknowledgement the building needs to get done."
Kennedy spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner said: ``Senator Kennedy agrees with the National Archives that the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library is in great need of expansion space . . . and believes that the plan they've put together will represent a win-win situation for UMass-Boston, the library, and the City of Boston."
The National Archives agency contracted with Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, a New York firm, to design the addition.