A vote by the Rockport Select Board to approve a contract with Stephen G. Smith Architects to design a new Rockport Public Library was postponed Jan. 8, resulting from of list of proposed changes made by the town attorney prior to the meeting.

Town Manager Rick Bates said that he was somewhat surprised by the list of changes, considering that a similar contract had been submitted to the town's legal counsel previously, when architects Reed & Co. were engaged to design the facility. Bates asked Smith, who was present at the meeting, to describe his impression of the proposed changes.

Smith explained that the American Institute of Architects contract that he initially received by the town, which was the same format used by Reed & Co., was an outdated, 2007 format. As a result, Smith submitted a 2017 version of an AIA contract. Smith said that the updated version was essentially the same.

"The language, the wording, the sections are almost identical. Our fee proposals and Reed's proposals are virtually identical….In arriving here tonight we have a full page of questions from the attorney regarding the contract itself, not the information we filled out," said Smith, who said that he planned to consult with Bates and an attorney of his own to review the document further.

"We've never hired an attorney to represent us on the contract [before] because the language is pretty standard and boiler-plate, but I think I have to get someone to address these issues with the town attorney at Bernstein Shur," said Smith.

Smith said that this process of clarifying the contract would not preclude himself or his company from continuing with the project, which Smith has been working on since Dec. 27. Bates said that he, Smith and the Selectmen had received the lawyer's suggestion an hour before the 7 p.m. board meeting.

After discussing whether or not to authorize Bates to execute the contract at a later date, after the amendments were satisfied but the dollar amounts remained the same, Selectmen Owen Casas asked Chairman Ken McKinley if he and Bates could view and approve the contract together at one of their weekly meetings.

Selectman Doug Cole moved that the town would authorize the town manager and the board chairman to review the contract, and any recommend changes, and then sign it. The five selectmen voted unanimously in favor of the motion.

Rockport Select Board decided that Camden-based architectural firm Stephen G. Smith and Associates should be responsible for creating the designing the library last month. Smith was one of six architects who submitted architectural concepts for the previous iteration of the project, which appeared before Rockport voters on the November 2016 ballot.

After reviewing the six concepts, the select board decided at that time to grant the design permission to Portland-based firm Reed & Co. It was Reed & Co.'s design for a $4 million library at 1 Limerock St., that was voted on and failed at the polls last year.

In November of 2017, the board had concluded that the budget for a new Rockport Public Library should not exceed $3 million, and Dec. 12 they voted in favor of keeping 1 Limerock St. as the site of the new facility. Prior to voting, the select board heard from several members of the public who expressed concerns over elements of the decision-making process on the project.