An inspector’s report indicating that the Falmouth Public Library could be expanded at a cost of $800,000 suggests a more expensive move to a soon-to-be-closed school is unnecessary, say opponents of the move.

The report, released at a Town Council meeting Tuesday night, contains the inspector’s unofficial estimate of $800,000 for a 4,000-square-foot, second-story expansion and an elevator to be added to the current library.

A town committee has recommended moving the library to the Lunt School and moving the town hall to the adjacent Plummer School. Both of the schools will be replaced by a new elementary school that is set to open next year.

The cost is pegged at about $10 million, with about half of it to be offset by the sale of some of the land where the schools are and the eventual sale of the town hall and the library building.

The goal is to create a new town center, with a wing of the Plummer School possibly to be used as a community center.

Dave Libby, a former town councilor, noted that the inspector’s report, which includes the estimate of the cost of an expansion in an appendix, surfaced just recently, even though it was turned in to town officials in April.

“It’s just kind of maddening that the report was just brought up,” he said.

He said $800,000 for the expansion is significantly less than the current estimate for the library portion of the move, pegged at about $3 million to $3.5 million.

“There’s an agenda on somebody’s part to have this community center happen on Lunt Road (where the schools are), which is a good piece away from the real community center, which is on Route 1,” he said.

Opponents have said they also don’t believe the timing is right for a $5 million bond, which would add about $50 to the current $2,500 annual tax bill for the owner of a $200,000 home.

Because it involves issuing a bond, the proposal would need voters’ approval. The Town Council initially appeared ready to send the bond to voters in November, but it’s now expected that the vote will be held in June.

Chantal Walker, president of the library’s board, said opponents have ignored the inspector’s report about deficiencies in the current library building, which she said would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to correct.

And, she noted, the estimate of the cost of the expansion works out to $200 a square foot, while estimates for renovations at the school are running $174 a square foot and have been falling as plans have been refined.

She said the expansion would allow the library only to address current shortcomings, such as an interlibrary book lending program that is essentially being run from a library staff kitchen. The building would still be cramped and lack adequate meeting space, even with the expansion, she said.

“We need more space and we need more than that building can give to us,” she said. 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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