A public hearing to discuss an advisory referendum requesting town money for a $6.9 million renovation and expansion of the Scarborough Public Library is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 5.

Following the public hearing, the council is expected to decide whether the referendum should be put to the voters of Scarborough at the municipal election scheduled for June 13.

To avoid increasing the town’s bonded indebtedness, the library board is applying to the United States Department of Agriculture for a rural development loan at a lower interest rate than traditional municipal bonds. Should voters approve the referendum, the town would assist the library in making payments through an annual appropriation.

The board has also committed to a $1.5 million capital campaign goal, which would further reduce the town’s obligation to the building costs. This campaign is being chaired by longtime Scarborough residents, Stephen Kirsch and Ken Ross, and early solicitations are underway.

The Scarborough Public Library was constructed in 1989 with an open floor plan intended to accommodate future expansion. At that time, projected growth in population suggested the library would need to consider expansion by the year 2000. Between 1990 and 2005, Scarborough’s population increased from 12,000 to more than 18,000. Subsequent increases in the collection, circulation, technology, programming, and visitor traffic placed immense pressure on the library’s space.

In 2001, the library’s board of trustees formed a Building Expansion Committee to evaluate existing conditions of the building and its ability to meet the community’s increased demand for services. Over the next four years, through professional guidance, community input, and extensive research on the facilities and materials relevant to a modern public library, it was determined that the library had sufficient need and community support for a renovation and expansion.

An estimated pre-design cost of $4.9 million was presented to the town in April of 2005. This figure did not include furnishings and was submitted with the caution that volatile market increases in fuel, steel, and other materials could not be predicted.

The current estimate of $6.9 million was developed by a professional cost estimator in consultation with the library’s architect and includes all building and site work, furnishings, technology, energy conservation enhancements, and related fees. The building design was strategically planned to meet the needs of Scarborough for the next 20 years.

The library plans to introduce details of the renovation and expansion to the public in the weeks leading up to the vote should the council approve the motion to place the advisory referendum on the ballot.

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