New foundation aims to raise $2 million for library

By Louis Bettcher | Jul 16, 2018
Source: Town of Rockport An alternate design of the proposed Rockport Public Library, prepared by Stephen G. Smith Architects.

Rockport — A group of volunteers has recently formed the Rockport Library Foundation to help raise the $2 million in private donations necessary to proceed with construction of the new building. The estimated cost of the building is $3.5 million: the remaining $1.5 million will appear as a bond question to voters at the November polls.

A website for the foundation has been created, and states that the Rockport Library Foundation is a "501.(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to raise the private funds that will complement the town bonded funds to construct the new library." The website features a detailed history of the proposed project, which was put before Rockport residents at the 2016 polls, when it failed to pass by nine votes.

Since then a new, Rockport-based architect, Stephen G. Smith, was hired to redesign the structure proposed for 1 Limerock St., with a different facade on a smaller scale from the $4 million, 9,500 square-foot design proposed by Reed & Co. Architects in 2016. The most recent renderings by Smith call for a 7,000-7,500 square-foot space.

After receiving a bid from Ledgewood Construction in March of $3.75 million for the project, Smith worked over the past months to scale down some of the proposed electrical and mechanical systems, and reduce the overall cost to $3.5 million. Smith has also reduced some of the landscaped areas, patios and terraces from the original design. To further cut costs, a variable air volume system has been changed to a heat-pump system.

The plan includes a redesigned intersection of Russell, Union and Limerock streets -- a redesign would remove the existing island that lies in the middle where the three roads merge. A number of new parking spaces would also be added to Limerock St. opposite the building where Memorial Park is.

The foundation is co-chaired by Joan Welsh and William Leone. Other members are Peter Ralson, Anne Filley, and John Viehman, who will serve as marketing chair. Philip Conkling & Associates are listed as the fund-raising counsel. The website also offers a direct link through which members of the public may donate to the cause. An electronic pledge form may be printed and sent with a donation to the foundation's post office box in Rockport.

In addition, a number of "naming opportunities" are available, through which donors may pledge varying amounts of money to have their names placed on everything from the proposed library's clock tower to the backs of its chairs. For $500,000 a donor may have the main room of the library, both fiction and non-fiction sections, named after themselves. Name recognition in the library's other reference rooms vary in price from $250,000 to $150,000. For a more modest donation of $5,000 a citizen may have their name attached to one of the facility's desks, and patio bricks can be dedicated for $150 each.

In the coming months the foundation's volunteers will be reaching out to members of the public to seek input on the plan for the new building and to seek participation in the fundraising effort. More information can be found on the foundation's website,

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