CAPE ELIZABETH – Cape Elizabeth voters will decide at a November referendum whether to approve borrowing $4 million for expansion and renovation of the Thomas Memorial Library on Scott Dyer Road.

After a presentation from the library building committee and project architects on Monday, the Town Council voted unanimously to approve a ballot question that asks voters to approve the bond for the renovations, as well as a $200,000 contingency fund for unanticipated expenses and another $150,000 to provide temporary library facilities at the former Spurwink School during construction.

Two years ago, voters rejected a referendum to borrow up to $6 million for an earlier design of a new library.

According to Molly MacAuslan, the library building committee chairwoman, the council then appointed the planning committee “to review all the work that had been done, summarizing the building’s deficiencies to assess the current and future community needs for programs and services at the library and consider alternative ways for providing those programs and services.”

Formerly the Pond Cove School annex, the existing main library that fronts Scott Dyer Road would be renovated to become more energy efficient. While the library’s lower level would become the children’s area and offer space for programs – including an outdoor play space and reading garden – the upper level would house the adult and young adult collections. Renovations would increase the size of the library from about 14,500 square feet to 16,000 square feet. The parking lot would also be expanded by 53 spaces and redesigned with landscaped islands.

MacAuslan said the planning committee worked to create a smaller-scale plan for building and renovation and hired Reed & Co. Architecture of Portland to help create it. In January, she said the Town Council appointed the Library Building Committee to develop a building plan for renovating the library for $4 million.

“The last thing we wanted was to deliver to the community a proposal that failed to meet residents’ needs and expectations,” MacAuslan said.

At a public hearing in July, the Planning Board unanimously approved the project.

Architects Dick Reed and Cynthia Loebenstein, from Reed & Co. Architecture, attended Monday’s meeting to give an overview of the site plan.

“This project offered an opportunity to create a pedestrian connection between the library and elementary schools that support and encourage shared resources,” Loebenstein said. “By removing the 1985 connector building, it opens up the space between the Town Center and the schools, providing a more welcoming environment for everybody in the community.

“It honors the history and heritage of Cape Elizabeth by retaining the Pond Cove annex building and the front lawn area,” she said.

She added, “The two-story addition maximizes green space while minimizing the building footprint, exterior surface area and thermal envelope. This reduces site costs and energy-consumption costs.”

Councilors said they are excited to see the town make progress on the long-awaited project and to see what the community decides in November.

“The design team and the building committee’s hard work has really paid off,” said Council Chairwoman Jessica Sullivan. “I am highly confident that voters are going to approve it.”

Reed & Co. Architecture of Portland created this rendering of the new children’s area as part of a $4 million expansion and renovation of the Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth. 

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