More details emerge about proposed Cape Elizabeth library renovation

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CAPE ELIZABETH — A new schematic design for Thomas Memorial Library provides more details about a potential $4 million renovation project.

It features a skylight and glass-enclosed stairwell, enhanced landscaping, a children’s playground, private study areas, expanded parking and more.

Dick Reed and Cynthia Loebenstein of Reed & Co. Architecture presented the design March 20 at Town Hall to the Library Building Committee, the Thomas Memorial Library Foundation and the library board of trustees.

In December, the Town Council established the Library Building Committee and charged it with developing a library construction and renovation plan with a maximum budget of $4 million to go before voters in November.

The new schematic design is similar to the proposal crafted in fall 2013 by Reed & Co. and the Library Planning Committee. It would increase the library’s overall space by 10 percent and its usable space by 40 percent. On the lower level, it features an art gallery and a large meeting room with seating for approximately 100 people. It would raise the lower level’s ceiling by 14 inches.

The children’s area could include an aquarium. The young adult section would be designed to limit escaping noise, while giving staff “visual control” of the area.

Wheelchair accessibility would be improved throughout the building.

The various library constituents responded positively on to the design.

“The building still keeps its traditional character, but it’s a 21st century library,” library Chairman Ken Piper said.

Next, Reed & Co. will begin the design-development stage of the planning process. The entire design process should be complete by July or early August, said Molly MacAuslan, chairwoman of the Library Building Committee.

Earlier this month, the building committee hired Zachau Construction to serve as the project’s construction manager. Zachau will ensure the project stays on budget and work with Reed & Co. on elements including roofing and mechanical systems, MacAuslan said. The company’s proposed fee is $289,300.

The library groups maintain that a lack of details and public information contributed to the failure at the polls of a $6 million library renovation referendum in November 2012. This time around, they’ve advocated greater transparency about what the project would entail. Last week’s meeting was broadcast on public access TV, and the video was archived online.

“When this project goes to referendum, the voters will know exactly what the project is and how it’s been defined,” MacAuslan said. “There will be a full set of construction drawings, and they’ll know exactly what the price is.”

Brendan Twist can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter:@brendantwist.