Cape Elizabeth study suggests replacing library at a cost of $5M-$8M

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CAPE ELIZABETH — While no decisions have been made about a new Thomas Memorial Library, the Town Council has received a report from the Library Study Committee that recommends building a new facility at a cost of more than $5 million.

Council Chairman James Rowe said a workshop on Sept. 3 was an opportunity for councilors hear from the committee, meet with architects and consultants, tour the library and “see the deficiencies first hand.”

He said a group including himself, Town Manager Michael McGovern, Library Director Jay Scherma, Library Study Committee Chairwoman Nancy Marshall and Councilor Anne Swift-Kayatta, chairwoman of the council finance subcommittee, will meet and discuss the future of the library within a few weeks.

“We have nothing in mind right now,” Rowe said. “We will meet to talk about our options, and will come up with a short-term plan very soon.”

He said library consultants Himmel and Wilson, and Casaccio Architects were at the Sept. 3 workshop to answer additional questions for the councilors. He also said the council may have a decision regarding the library by October.

The recommendation presented to the council from the Library Study Committee favored a “clean-slate” approach, Rowe said: to replace the current facility with a new, energy-efficient building that retains the historic elements of the current library.

In making its decision, the committee gathered public input by conducting telephone and Web-based interviews, small-group gatherings and public design groups.

According to the study, four options were considered: to leave the library as is, to renovate the existing space, to add to the current building, or to build a new facility. Options to add to the space and to create a new building were favored, but in the end, the “clean-slate” approach was recommended to the council.

The “clean-slate” plan is estimated to cost between $5.1 million and $7.8 million, and since the library is a municipal service, was suggested to be funded by both public and private funds.

After the council makes a decision on the recommendations from the library committee, next steps include will include initial design plans, discussions with the community and potential donors, the formation of a leadership team, and a fundraising capacity study to determine how much can be raised privately.

The study, preliminary designs, and other background material can be found at the town Web site

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or