In a town hall-style meeting March 28, the Rockport Library Planning Committee presented two possible designs for a new community library.

The meeting sought community input for relocation of the library. The meeting took place at Rockport Opera House.

Currently, Rockport Public Library is located at 1 Limerock St. in Rockport Village, near Rockport Opera House and the harbor.

The former Rockport Elementary School is one of the potential locations for a new library. The school, located at the corner of Route 1 and West Street, was approved for demolition by voters in 2011 and this spring, the town public works department began removal of the structure. The property is owned by the town.

Molly Larson, director of Rockport Public Library, applied for and received a $15,000 grant from the Davis Family Foundation to study moving the library to a new location. The foundation was established by Phyllis C. and H. Halsey Davis of Falmouth for educational, medical, cultural, cultural and arts organizations. H. Halsey Davis was the former president and chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc.

Austin Smith from Scott Simons Architectural Firm of Portland presented to approximately 60 people in the audience, two designs from the study that originally proposed seven library options.

“Throughout the process ideas were taken into consideration. It was a great learning experience and out of the seven proposals, the planning committee has chosen the two that we felt were the best options,” Smith said. “Remember this is just a workshop, nothing is set in concrete, we are just looking for input.”

Smith said one option would allow use of the southern exposure for energy conservation purposes and a dual entrance system that would allow for pick-up and drop off on the West Street side of the structure using the existing bus loop. Parking and the primary front door would be on the southern side of the lot, he said.

“Through the study, we discovered that it was important to have a presence on West Street,” said Smith. “Using the existing loop to allow for pick-up and drop off and parking on the other side of the building will help control the flow of traffic.”

The conceptual design has the building cited close to where the former school was located, with center section consisting of gable ends and two flat sides facing the intersection of Route 1 and West Street and a curved wall on the opposite side facing the parking area.

The second concept presented showed the building in the same position on the lot but with both major exterior walls curving off the center gable end. It also removes the entrance from West Street.

Both designs include a larger area for fiction/nonfiction books, a lower shelf height to help use some of the natural light, a children's area, a teen area, expanded technology stations and three meeting rooms. The estimated footprint of each proposal for the new library building is 14,000 square feet.

A concern expressed by community members was relocating the library from the village and moving it to the RES site. Larson responded by saying, “this is the only town-owned property that would work for this kind of project.”

Larson also added the engineering study confirmed the last addition to the current library building maximized the library’s ability to expand because of its location next to a stream. There have been four additions to the existing library, with the last one completed 23 years ago.

“We can't go up, down or out because of the proximity to the stream” Larson said.” The building has had four additions and it has served us well.”

Other attendees of the meeting noted the former RES site would make the library more accessible to the community as a whole.

The next step is for the Library Planning Committee to meet again with Scott Simons Architects to discuss suggested changes, according to Larson.

"I would like to remind anyone interested to contact the library for any concerns or questions," Larson said. "There are a lot of rumors and misinformation being communicated in the public and if they go to the website or ask a question we will do our best to get answers for them on the process."

Larson also added a DVD of the community meeting can be checked out from the library. The library website and past newsletters also have a wealth of information on the topic, she said.

There was little discussion of what the project might cost and where the funding may come from as the planning committee is still in the research phase of the project. A presentation of the final conceptual design will take place at a later date.

Camden Herald reporter Dwight Collins can be reached at 236-8511 or dcollins@courierpublicationsllc.com.

 

Editor's note: The story has been clarified to reflect the study's purpose of considering sites other than the existing library location. The former RES site is one option being discussed.