Letter to the editor: Transparency demanded for Rockport library process
After reviewing my library files — from librarian Sally Regan's report in 2003 through the Steering Committee and Ad Hoc Committee reports — I would like to suggest a new plan for the Rockport Select Board to consider, one that could eliminate divisions about the size, cost and location of a new library in our community .
I'm asking the Select Board to Ignore the pressure of making a quick decision and to do the right thingby giving voters a legitimate choice. They should contract with Reed & Co., the architectural firm that worked with the Ad Hoc Committee and current library director, to draw up conceptual designs for both the RES and 1 Limerock Street sites, using a prescribed square foot amount of useable space. With these, the Select Board could obtain estimates for construction costs and projected operational expenses for each site. Since there are pros and cons to residents as well as to the town at the two locations, it is important for voters to have what they need to make an informed decision.
Two critical stipulations:
Useable space should be at minimum 7,000-8,000 square feet, even less than that recommended by the Library Committee, former library director and independent library consultant. And there must be ease of expansion to accommodate future needs.
The cost of restructuring the Central-Union-Russell-Limerock intersection must be clearly outlined as part of the estimate for the 1 Limerock Street site since there is no guarantee the Maine Department of Transportation will reimburse Rockport for even a percentage of that expense.
Voters have to be able to trust that they are being provided with complete and transparent facts, that the Select Board has utilized outside, independent experts as needed, that no favoritism has been shown.
Voters also want to see what they will get for their money and how a new library will benefit them as well as the town. Therefore, educating the public will be essential. Only by such a thorough process can voters have confidence in the final outcome.
Thirteen years have passed since the initial discussion to build a new library. In the scheme of things, if it takes another year or two for the Select Board and voters to make a clear, fair determination about the library, so be it. We must keep in mind that our new library will serve the community for decades to come so this time, let's do it right!
Ames Curtis lives in West Rockport