The Select Board unanimously approved the bond language for the construction of the new Rockport Public Library at 1 Limerock St. following a public hearing on Aug. 27. The language will appear before voters on Nov. 6.

The estimated total cost for the structure is $3.5 million, $1.5 of which would be paid by the town if the ballot article receives voter approval this fall. The remaining $2 million would be raised through private donations and fundraising over the next three years.

In addition to the $1.5 million bond, the select board also approved possible town spending of up to $300,000 in "bridge financing" in anticipation of inflating construction costs during the three-year period in which citizens seek private donations. The $300,000 in bond spending will also require voter approval this fall.

"We are suggesting the flexibility [of the $300,000] if the fundraising committee reports to us in March or April that things are going very well with the fundraising but that some of the money being pledged might not come in until a later time, it gives us the flexibility to basically borrow against those pledges and start the project," said Vice Chair Ken McKinley, who added that the borrowing may not be necessary.

"We don't have to borrow the entire amount…and we can do it from time to time," said select board member Debra Hall.

According to the select board packet for the Aug. 27 meeting, if approved. the $300,000 would incur a 4 percent interest rate over three years, for a total of $324,313, to be repaid to the town. The total of town indebtedness is currently $2.14 million.

The $1.5 million in bond-spending would be subject to a 3.3 percent interest rate over an expected 20-year maturation period; this would result in $587,000 in interest for a total of approximately $2 million. A stipulation of the $1.5 million is the requirement of the select board to make a determination that sufficient donation commitments have been made before moving forward with the project.

"That's written that way so we don't have to wait for the last cent to come in because that would require waiting perhaps two or three years, and the construction costs would likely go through the roof," said McKinley.

Prior to the discussion and vote by the board there was a period of public comment; no one from the audience spoke in favor of or against the proposed bond language.

In July a group of volunteers formed the Rockport Library Foundation to help raise the $2 million in private donations necessary to proceed with construction of the new building. In a statement issued by the town of Rockport on Aug. 3, Select Board Chairman Doug Cole sounded optimistic that estimates for the project were within the projected $3.5 million budget.

"[The estimated costs] tell me me we're doing this right by keeping it local. We had three separate estimates — two from local contractors and one from a local estimator — and they're all landing comfortably within our budget goal of $3.5 million," said Cole.

Cole serves on the project's building committee along with Selectman Ken McKinley, Library Committee member Ann Filley, Library Director Ben Blackmon, Town Manager Rick Bates, architect Steve Smith and engineer Will Gartley. Charlie Frattini, of Phi Home Builders, was recently hired as the owner's representative for the project.

The plan for the new library includes a redesigned intersection of Russell, Union and Limerock streets — a redesign that would remove the existing island that lies in the middle, where the three roads merge. The intersection project is expected to be funded largely by the State. A number of new parking spaces would also be added to Limerock Street opposite Memorial Park.