A possible expansion of the Falmouth Memorial Library would nearly double the size of the existing 10,000-square-foot facility at a cost of about $5 million.
The rough plan to add 8,000 square feet, which was presented to town councilors Wednesday, is the result of months of design meetings that involved the public and library employees. The sessions examined the future needs of the facility as it takes on the expanded role of a resource-rich community center.
Architects have determined that the library’s current property at the corner of Depot and Lunt roads is suitable if an adjacent house and land is acquired for a reshaped parking lot.
“They’re as much of a social gathering place or community gathering place as they are a library,” said Scott Simons, of Portland-based Scott Simons Architects, which was contracted by the library and the town to develop the plans. “It’s not about the books anymore.”
The cost estimate includes the price of acquiring an adjacent residential property, which the town has an option to buy for $375,000. The estimate also includes $3.3 million for new construction that encompasses specialized methods to maximize the building’s efficiency. Renovations to existing parts of the building, furnishings and design is expected to cost about $1.4 million.
Simons said the goal for the new design was to keep operating costs at or below the current level of about $26,000 annually the library spends for energy and utilities, by maximizing the use of natural light, efficient construction methods and the possible use of photovoltaic cells on the structure’s roof.
The new design would add significant space for staff offices, an enlarged children’s section and more dedicated public computer space, in addition to room for meetings and groups.
Mark Porada, president of the library’s board of trustees, said remaining on the current property, which is important to Falmouth residents for its location, is possible because of the town’s option to purchase the adjacent real estate.
A consulting firm will soon begin assessing how much of the project’s price-tag the community could be expected to raise alone, Porada said. Results of that evaluation is due in March, with a fundraising campaign expected to begin some time in the spring.
The town has not committed to funding the expansion, although it does provide roughly 75 percent of the library’s annual operating cost, and jointly owns the land and the building.
The library was last expanded in 1995, Simons said. The current expansion would provide comfortable facilities for the next 15 years, and is designed for a second floor to be built in the future if more space is needed, Porada estimated.
“We hope we’ll be able to raise a majority of the cost,” Porada said. “If there was a gap, we’d then go back to the town and discuss options.”
Staff Writer Matt Byrne can be reached at 791-6303 or at: