Library demolition may start Dec. 3

By Daniel Dunkle | Nov 26, 2018
Courtesy of: Town of Rockport This is a rendering of the Russell Avenue side of the new Rockport library done by Stephen G. Smith architects.

Rockport — The Town Office put out an announcement Monday, Nov. 26, stating: "weather permitting, during the week of Dec. 3, we anticipate beginning the demolition of the old Rockport Library building at 1 Limerock St. in anticipation of the construction of the new library in the spring of 2019."

The demolition is expected to take up to 10 days and will involve a large excavator and dump trucks at the site. Much of the work will be done by town public works employees.

The Central Street end of Limerock Street will be closed during the demolition project.

The Select Board discussed the demolition project at its Nov. 13 meeting, with members noting they hoped to complete the demolition soon so it would be out of the way and the site would be ready for construction of the new library to start in the spring.

It was noted at the meeting that the demolition would require an additional permit from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, because the library site is close to a stream.

The town hopes that the building can be demolished completely and the site smoothed over with wood chips and hay to avoid runoff and maintain safety for the community. The area may have to be fenced in to keep people out of the site over the winter.

Selectmen agreed at the meeting to leave the decision on when to complete the demolition to the professionals who will do the work.

It was also noted that some trees will be cut down at the library site and Limerock Street will likely have to be closed for a year during the construction of the new library.

The town has hired Phi Builders and Architects of Rockport, with Charlie Frattini to serve as the owner's representative for the project.

Voters approved a $1.5 million bond for the new library project Nov. 6 by a vote of 1,067 to 922.

The new $3.5 million library will be at Russell Avenue and Limerock Street overlooking the harbor. The new two-story building will include a 7,000-square-foot modern library with an additional 3,000 square feet for future expansion. It will have flexible space to accommodate future technology and dedicated spaces for teens and children.

Construction of the new library is expected to start in late April, and the plan is to have the building closed in and heated before winter 2019. The target for opening the new library is June 2020, though that is just an estimate at this point.

It was announced at the end of September that the library's capital campaign was halfway to its $2 million fundraising goal. The total project is budgeted at $3.5 million, with $1.5 million approved as a bond by the voters. The remaining $2 million is being funded through private donations, with fundraising being spearheaded by the Rockport Library Foundation, a nonprofit organization created to fund the project.

"While the bond to build has passed, and fundraising is going better than we had hoped, if you wish to make a donation to the project, you can easily do so at the foundation’s web page, rockportlibraryfoundation.org," the press release from the town stated.

The funding approved so far for the library project does not include parking, sidewalks and intersection improvements, Town Manager Rick Bates said at the meeting, but the town is likely to receive a grant covering 50 percent of that work from the Maine Department of Transportation. Improvements to parking on Limerock Street are 100 percent the responsibility of the town.

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