Falmouth overwhelmingly backs $2.8M bond to expand library

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FALMOUTH — Voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly supported the only referendum question on the town ballot, to finance half the funds needed to renovate and expand Falmouth Memorial Library.

Unofficial results showed the $2.8 million bond referendum passed with more than 60 percent of the vote, 4,005 to 2,559.

The project will cost $5.6 million, with the town committed to financing half. The rest will be funded by a capital campaign organized by the library board of trustees.

Library Director Andi Jackson-Darling said said there has been a lot of excitement already for the project.

“Everyone is really excited, we’re already meeting today towards working towards the future,” Jackson-Darling said. “It’s not like we don’t have long to celebrate, but now it’s back to work. I have a great big grin on my face.”

Projected pre-construction costs for library expansion would be $302,000 of the bond proceeds. This would include design development, survey revisions, construction documents and bidding, plus others, which would occur in the nine-month period leading up to construction.

The anticipated average interest rate on the proposed bond is between 2.75 percent and 3.5 percent. An assumed 3.3 percent interest rate on a 20-year term would yield a cost of more than $970,000. This means the town’s total estimated debt service would actually be over $3.78 million.

Jackson-Darling said she hopes votes like this and a similar one that passed in Cape Elizabeth last night will help people “recognize the fact there’s a shift in libraries.”

She said there has been a focus on the idea that books equal a library, but she said they don’t. Jackson-Darling said there has been a shift in the way people obtain information, and she hopes people see that “libraries are not obsolete.”

“It’s not your grandmother’s library,” Jackson-Darling said.

The project underwent much scrutiny and debate at the Town Council, which ultimately ended up unanimously endorsing it on Sept. 8. It also survived despite the defeat in 2011 of a proposal to expand the former Lunt School for the library.

That initiative was spearheaded by a group called Falmouth Citizens for Sound Choices, which opposed the library proposal this time around, too.

Construction will begin next year, and is expected to last up to 10 months.

“Things just seemed to fall into place,” Jackson-Darling said. “It’s just really exciting.”

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

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Voters gather at Falmouth High School to cast their ballots, where they overwhelmingly supported a referendum on renovating and expanding the Falmouth Memorial Library.

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.