Falmouth library resists pleas to act quickly on move

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FALMOUTH — Although it’s early in the process, some residents are already criticizing a possible move of Falmouth Memorial Library to the former Plummer School property.

At their meeting Monday night, town councilors heard an update on plans for the Plummer-Motz and Lunt school properties from the OceanView Retirement Community, including a proposal for moving the library.

Matt Teare, director of development for OceanView, presented plans for an improved town green, a shared auditorium and a new library.

Teare said that with a 5,000-square-foot expansion the library could have approximately 15,800 square feet of usable space.

“We think it’s a good option,” he said, adding that it meets or exceeds most space recommendations and presents opportunities to expand.

Estimated cost for the project at the Plummer School is around $5 million, Teare said. He said funding for the project has not been fully vetted, but options for funding run the gamut from fundraising to the sale of the existing library on Lunt Road.

He said a feasibility study would be is the first step, after the library board decides which option it prefers.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, three residents spoke out against the library move, saying the town spoke in 2011 when it rejected a referendum to move the library and create a community center on the former school property.

“The library board needs to do its due diligence and make a decision based on what’s best for the library and what’s best for the town,” Bruce Skillings said.

Ted Veo said he feels any plan to move the library is not a viable option.

“The residents of Falmouth appreciate very much the library we have; the wide usage is a testament to that,” he said. “I think we have an excellent library and it would be very expensive and a shame to move in a different direction.”

Teare told the board OceanView would like to move forward by January, but Kim Millick, the library president, said the board still has a lot of work to do before it makes any decision and asked the council to wait until June for a decision.

“We need time to explore (our options),” Millick said. “I’m just not sure the board can move that fast.”

While councilors said they appreciated the need for more time because of the large percentage of new members on the library board, they urged Millick to move as quickly as possible.

“I’d really like to see you move faster than June, because I think there is momentum now. People are interested and the more you stretch it out, I think that’s going to dissipate,” Councilor Bonny Rodden said.

Millick said one of the major concerns of the board is the 2011 referendum vote and finding out why residents said no to moving the library. While some councilors said the referendum should be left in the past, Councilor Tony Payne said residents should be polled again.

“I believe the community would be well served if the June ballot carried an advisory referendum asking: ‘Do you want the library to move from its current location to the Plummer School?” he said in an e-mail Tuesday. “If the advisory referendum suggests the move is warranted, OceanView and the trustees will have a clear path for their budgeting, fundraising and design. If, on the other hand, the advisory referendum suggests the library should remain at its current location, then OceanView can consider other options for redevelopment.”

Councilor Teresa Pierce disagreed and said there is no need for a referendum. She said the library board should examine its needs as quickly as possible.

John Wasileski, owner of OceanView, said he understands the library board’s desire to examine its options and said there is no hard and fast deadline, although his company would like to see progress continue.

“Let’s get the progress going, see if there is significant interest,” he said. “We absolutely do not want to see (progress) slip right now. … I know that timelines oftentimes slip, so it’s our message to you tonight to say let’s really get some enthusiasm going for this thing and put some horsepower behind it and see where it sits.”

Wasileski said there is momentum for the project and the town and OceanView can benefit from moving the library.

“There is an opportunity lost from having the library moved, but also one gained by having a new use for that site,” he said. “Whatever you do we will support you, but it’s to a different level if you’re not in our space.”

Amber Cronin can be reached at acronin@theforecaster.net or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter @croninamber.