ROCKPORT — Design plans are on the table for the new Rockport Public Library building, and architects will talk about them with citizens July 20, at the Rockport Opera House, upstairs. At a July 18 meeting, The Select Board got a preview of possible plans, which include a rooftop deck with views over the harbor, room for reading, outdoor films and solar panels, a new children’s garden by the currently overgrown stream, 24 new parking spaces on a one-way Limerock Street, and other creative ideas for a two-story public library that could, if need be, get expanded to three stories and still remain under code.
The planning committee’s chairman, Jan Rosenbaum, gave the Select Board and a handful of citizens an overview of progress to date, with slides. (Click here to watch the July 18 meeting).
The proposed building’s footprint is approximately 4,500 square feet in size, and the design allows for expansion in height on a 2,300-square-foot rooftop footprint.
The July 20 meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is for all stakeholders and citizens of Rockport. The information session will cover updates on the process so far:
1. Memorial Park enhancement
2. Library site planning
3. Interior program space
4. Basic project costs
5. Potential look of the new building
This informational meeting will also be available via Livestream, at https://livestream.com/Rockportmaine. Information on the committee and the planning process to date is available at .rockport.lib.me.us/extra7.asp . The July 18 meeting was to “bring people up to speed,” said Rosenbaum. “This is a progress report, not a final document.”
The architect, Dick Reed of Portland, was given in producing initial sketches: The library was “to accommodate the programmatic goals of the library committee and had to be located on the existing library site or the park across the street or a combination of both,” said Rosenbaum.
In the design lies a proposed reconfiguration of the intersection of Union, Central and Russell Ave. The pedestrian island will go away — “ a major goal of everyone because we are tired of everyone trying to figure out to go around it,” said Rosenbaum.
Limerock is to become one-way, with allowance there for 24 parking spaces, angled at 90 degrees.
The planning committee is hoping the town will apply for Maine Department of Transportation grants to help reconstruct the intersection on Union Street. That portion of the road is town-maintained but because it is old Route 1, it is federally owned.
A children’s garden is proposed to be created on the east side of the library, next to the stream, in an area currently overgrown with trees and brush.
The main entrance of the library is to be on Limerock Street.
As for fundraising, an independent committee is currently being formed. At the helm is Charlton Ames, who told the Select Board Monday evening that the project, estimated at approximately $4.5 million, will only succeed if the community endorses it.
Currently, there is conversation around the town bonding $1 million of the project and private funding covering the rest of the cost.
Ames said there are three ingredients to a successful fundraising: That the project is important, and he added,” there is nothing more important than a community’s library.”
The project has to be exciting, he said.
“You have picked the right architect,” said Ames. “Dick Reeed is the most qualified architect in the state of Maine for libraries.”
The third ingredient is energy.
“We are going to have to all work on it,” said Ames. “The citizens of Rockport are going to have to want this library. If we can energize the voters of Rockport and get them to support this bond, I think we will be OK. But we are going to really have to work.”
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