Cape Elizabeth library renovations on schedule

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The temporary town library at the Spurwink School building has been upgraded with a new handicapped-accessible entrance while Thomas Memorial Library is being renovated.

The building, which had been housing the children’s area of the library, now has a ground-level entrance.

“The entrance is at grade rather than having to go up the stairs,” library Director Jay Scherma said. “It was always part of the plan.”

The stairs are at the front of the building, but are now closed off. Library patrons now must go around to the side of the building, where just inside the doors elevators are available for those who need to use them.

The library began operating out of the Spurwink School building, next to Thomas Memorial Library on Scott Dyer Road, last month. The ground-level entrance wasn’t available right away because there were many other things that needed to be done to make the transition to the temporary space.

“The preliminary work was to make the Spurwink building self sufficient,” Scherma said.

He said operating out of the Spurwink School building has been successful so far.

“It’s going well,” he said. “We’ve resumed our program schedule.”

Scherma said children’s programs and activities take place at the Spurwink building, but adult programs are held in the Cape Elizabeth Middle School learning commons and at Cape Elizabeth Community Services.

Cape Elizabeth voters last November approved a $4 million renovation bond for Thomas Memorial Library. Scherma said most of the work done so far has happened inside the building and that 70 percent of the interior demolition has been completed.

He said because the work right now is being done inside, the weather hasn’t delayed the renovations.

“I’m sure it’s affected us to some degree, but the construction manager said we’ll still be done by the end of this year,” Scherma said.

Scherma on Wednesday said construction crews would do some work outside soon, if possible. For example, he said they’re supposed to disassemble the library’s chimney by the end of the week if the weather allows it. 

While the temporary library is fully functioning and the inter-library loan system is available, neighboring libraries have made offers of “good will,” according to Scherma.

Cape Elizabeth residents are being allowed to use Thomas Memorial Library cards at the South Portland Public Library and Scarborough Public Library until the end of this year.

Scherma said South Portland is waiving its non-resident borrowing fee, and Scarborough has entered into a reciprocal agreement with Thomas Memorial that allows Scarborough residents to also use Cape Elizabeth’s library.

He said the arrangement with Scarborough is for one year, but could be renewed.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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Jolene MacDonald, left, and Isla and Max Duffy, ages 4 and 5, have been enjoying the temporary Cape Elizabeth library while Thomas Memorial Library is being renovated. On Wednesday, they entered via a new, handicapped-accessible entrance.

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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.