Preliminary plans for Cape Elizabeth library please employees, trustees, councilors

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Thomas Memorial Library trustees and town councilors reviewed potential designs for a new library last week. 

The presentation on July 21 was the third meeting with Casaccio Architects on the library design plan.

Highlights of the plan include natural lighting from large windows and cathedral-type skylights, a lighthouse or cupola structure,  a reading area with a large gas fireplace, and an area for the Historical Society, the Friends of the Library and library administration.

The adult, young adult and children’s sections are placed so that children can be monitored, but adults can read without being disturbed. There is also an area for stroller parking and a coat room.

The library would have more of a connection to Pond Cove Elementary School and Cape Elizabeth Middle School via a paved connector path and educational rain gardens.

Bob Metcalf, landscape designer at Mitchell & Associates, said parking would include a combination of 90-degree and 60-degree spaces for conventional and compact cars. There would be bike racks, a book drop-off area and an outside seating area, he said.

Lee A. Casaccio said the design work would take another eight months to complete and stressed that the plan is still in the conceptual stage and is not ready to build.

“We’ve worked very hard to balance (opposites),” he said. “We want this to be strong, a landmark building for Cape Elizabeth. Our interpretation is to make this indigenous, but also civic.”

Even with the knowledge that there will be significant time and work needed before the design is a reality, library Director Jay Scherma said he is excited about the concept. He said he is pleased the design has been brought down to scale from previous proposals, which he said were too big and too modern.

“The architects have been very receptive to the staff comments and criticisms and we are basically very happy with the spoke layout,” he said. “This is shaping into a functional building with enormous potential.”

But Town Manager Mike McGovern said the cost is still an unknown. Determining the expense includes calculating estimates for construction, purchasing furniture, site work, and technology, as well as pricing the cost of a temporary location for the library during construction.

“This has been an excellent process, but it is timely to touch base with the council now,” he said. “The (library) trustees need to provide formal comments to the Town Council to determine the next steps.”

Whitney said the next steps will include a formal building plan, including mechanical, structural and engineering reports.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

Sidebar Elements


A rendering of a new Thomas Memorial Library, as seen from Scott Dyer Road in Cape Elizabeth.

The existing Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth, viewed from the parking lot off of Scott Dyer Road. The entrance is at the far left.

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