Falmouth library to stay put, at least for now

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FALMOUTH — Falmouth Memorial Library trustees on Monday declined an offer to move the library to the former Plummer School building on Middle Road.

But they haven’t ruled out moving the library if the right space becomes available. 

Kim Millick, president of the library board of trustees, on Tuesday said the board unanimously rejected the offer from the OceanView retirement community because it is not financially feasible for the library to move to Plummer, and because the town is attached to the library’s existing home at 5 Lunt Road.

In December 2012 the board began exploring its options for addressing space needs identified in a community survey done a year ago. The results of the survey called for more space and technology, which cannot be accommodated at the current location without an expansion.

The board received two proposals in December: one for an expansion on Lunt Road and another for the Plummer School property owned by OceanView.

Cost estimates for the Lunt Road expansion by architect Andy Hylund were between $1 million and $2 million, while the move to Plummer could have cost up to $5 million.

Millick said that while the board ruled out moving to the Plummer building, a move elsewhere is not out of the question.

“We have a couple of opportunities that we are exploring for an on-site expansion,” she said. “(But) there could be a new building somewhere else.”

She said the advantage of staying on Lunt Road is that the building offers amenities and qualities valued by residents, and is in a central location.

“We are going to look at whether or not the building can be added on to and we have a consultant that will come in and look at it and give us an assessment in the next month,” Millick said. “If that does not pan out (however), we need to keep our options open.”

Town Councilor Tony Payne, who championed keeping the library in the center of town, said he is delighted with the board’s decision.

“I can only reinforce that the library symbolically and, in fact, is at the center of our economic district and the choice not to move to Plummer means that we are going to have a very vibrant and healthy economic center in town,” he said.

He said he understands the continued need to explore other options for the space, but he hopes that if the library moves, it will remain in the center of town.

“The memorial aspect (of the library) is very important to a lot of people,” Payne said, “so being where it is right now is very important.”

OceanView, meanwhile, intends to move forward with an alternate plan for the Plummer building.

“Our Plan B always was senior affordable housing and it looks like we are going to go definitely in that direction at this point,” said Chris Wasileski, project manager for OceanView. “We have received some positive responses from our residential community and the community at large on providing senior affordable housing as a component to add to our campus.”

He said he is not sure when the company will appear before the Planning Board with initial plans for the space, but it could be within the next two months.

“We are excited about this as a Plan B option because it does fill a need in the community and we have quite a bit of support,” Wasileski said Tuesday.

OceanView took ownership of the former Plummer-Motz school property last month, after a year-long process of obtaining proper permitting and finalizing the $3.25 million purchase from the town.

A previous attempt by the library to move to the adjacent Lunt School property was rejected by voters in 2011.

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