ROCKPORT — Select Board member Doug Cole shared plans for the landscaping around the new Rockport Public Library with his fellow board members at their March 23 meeting; Cole serves as the board’s liaison to the Library Building Committee. The plans were drawn by landscape architect Keith Smith, who has envisioned planting, hardscape and lighting options around the 1 Limerock Street facility.
At the Monday night meeting Cole asked the board to approve the concept of the landscape design, which had been recommended to the Select Board by the Parks and Beautification Committee, and on which Cole also serves as a liaison.
The Select Board unanimously approved the concept, which calls for four new pole lights, landscape lighting, two 20 foot benches and a retaining wall.
The proposed landscaping concept places garden beds on either side of the library, as well as smaller gardens near the parking area as well as what was once “Weidman Square” – a pedestrian island which has since been incorporated into the library grounds.
The Weidman monument would also be placed in this area, and Cole said a “butterfly garden” would be planted, having been funded by a private donor.
Trees and shrubs would be also planted around the library, and the rear yard of the facility would be essentially a grass lawn.
Another design element would be to incorporate the bricks purchased by donors, bearing names or dedications, on the structure’s patio area.
Cole said the approval of the concept of the landscape design was an essential step before funding options for the work are further explored; he said the next step would be to discuss financing options with contractors.
Cole said the he paving of walkways and sidewalks on the site will be covered as part of the package for intersection work along Russell Ave., Central St. and Limerock St., and some of this may be paid for by the Maine Department of Transportation. Town Manager Bill Post said March 10 the estimate for the intersection work near the new library is approximately $242,000. He said that $110,000 will be paid by the Maine Department of Transportation, and constitutes and infrastructure improvement for the town.
Cole said that if no additional landscaping plans like the one presented were funded, as part of their contract with the Town, Phi Builders, the firm selected to build the library, would provide gravel to various areas and plant grass on the site. He added that Phi is in the process of preparing a cost estimate for the landscape plan.
“A building of the magnitude in town, you really need to have a landscape architect involved in the outside of the building. Sure, you could just plant grass everywhere and call it good, but again, the location of this building – it’s an icon there at the top of Central St. and I think that everybody in the end would really like to have this look very nice,” said Cole.
Board member Mark Kelley asked that the estimates by Phi, which will be organized by category and priority, be delivered to the board in time for their April meeting.
He pointed out that if Phi simply plants grass and distributes gravel along the property when they finish with the library construction, and then trees and other plantings from the proposed plan are brought onto the site, trucks and other machinery could “undo” some of the freshly applied lawn and groundwork.
“Yes indeed, a year from now or two years from now, when we go in to do the work, yes we’re going to have to tear up a lot of that stuff, but that’s the nature of the beast,” said Cole.
“So what you’re saying is that there’s no expectation that the plantings will be done until a year or two from now,” asked Kelley.
“Well, if we don’t have money...,” said Cole.
Town Manager Bill Post said that it would be helpful to see the cost estimate, and tasks listed in order of importance to determine how various items could be funded as wall as areas which could be covered through donations and volunteer work.
The next meeting of the Rockport Select Board will be held Monday, April 13, at 6:30 p.m. at the Rockport Opera House.