Cape Elizabeth approves $4M bond for library renovation

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Thomas Memorial Library will be renovated with funding from a $4 million bond.

Voters on Nov. 4 approved the borrowing proposal, 3,587 to 1,798.

Town Councilor and library building committee Chairwoman Molly MacAuslan said she is very happy with the outcome.

“We’re very pleased to see that not only did it pass, but it passed with a wide margin,” she said.

In 2012, a $6 million borrowing plan failed.

The Town Council in August approved the new proposal, along with a $200,000 contingency fund and $150,000 to construct a temporary library at the former Spurwink School, behind the library.

MacAuslan said in October the cost of the project would add less than $50 a year to the median household tax bill, or about the cost of two new hardcover books. As for the contingency fund, MacAuslan in August said the building committee doesn’t anticipate having to spend the $200,000.

The committee has been working with Richard Reed of Reed and Co. Architecture in Portland to design the new library at 6 Scott Dyer Road.

Under the new plan, a 1985 connector building between the main library and the children’s library will be replaced with a two-story, 13,000-square-foot building. MacAuslan said it will be 10 percent larger than the current library, but will be 40 percent more efficient in how it will be laid out.

The existing main library will be renovated and the children’s library will be moved to the lower level. After the the Spurwink School is used as a temporary library, it will be used for storage.

There also will be a children’s reading garden and outdoor play space. At the center of the north wall of the library, a stairway will be renovated to include a glass wall looking into the library. At night, a light will highlight the new features, making the building visible from the road.

New features inside the library, in addition to the children’s area, will include computers and media labs, spaces for studying, and meeting rooms. Some of these spaces will be available during non-library hours. There will also be a new young adult section that will be visible from the circulation desk.

The current entrance to the library will be replaced with a covered entrance and will have a drop-off loop for cars where the existing parking lot is located. A new, 53-space, landscaped parking lot will be created on what is now a grassy area.

MacAuslan said a renovated and modern library would show that Cape Elizabeth is “a forward-looking community.” She said libraries are changing and that the vote shows that residents of Cape are ready to experience a modern library.

“It shows that there’s a tremendous amount of support for such a valuable resource in the community,” MacAuslan said.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3361 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.