Construction on the Falmouth Memorial Library expansion is going well and the facility is on track to reopen in spring 2020. While the project is ongoing, the library is temporarily located at the Mason-Motz Activity Center on Middle Road. Kate Irish Collins / The Forecaster

FALMOUTH — The $6.6 million Falmouth Memorial Library expansion project is on schedule and on budget four months after construction began in early May, but the project hasn’t been without its surprises and difficulties.

Marsha Clark, the former president of the library board who was instrumental in planning the library project, said there’s a lot of standing water on the site, which, she said, “has been a near-constant battle for us.”

In addition, the contractor, Ledgewood Construction in Portland, discovered asbestos-lined stormwater drain pipes that required special handling to dispose of and some work has also been delayed because of the need for a particularly large crane that’s not available due to high demand.

Some in town have also lamented the need to take down trees to make room for the expanded building and the new parking lot, but Clark told the Town Council Monday that landscaping improvements will include new trees and shrubs.

Council Chairwoman Amy Kuhn said the contractor “is running a very tight ship” and is “organized and efficient.

“It’s been a very well run operation,” Kuhn said.

The project has been years in the making, with library leaders first expressing the need for an updated, larger facility as far back as 2012. The hope is for the new library to open sometime in March or April 2020.

Library use and circulation have increased dramatically. In 2012, the library said it circulated 205,000 items and the had more than 135,500 patron visits in 2011, which was the highest among comparable towns across the state.

In a November 2014 referendum, voters approved borrowing $2.81 million for the renovation and expansion if the library raised another $2.81 million for the project privately. It took the library nearly four years to raise its share of the money.

While there have been a number of design changes in order to lower construction costs, the basic footprint of the new Falmouth Memorial Library has remained the same. File / Falmouth Memorial Library

Then, in the summer of 2018, just as library leaders were getting ready to move forward with construction, they learned the project was significantly over budget. That led to a request for an additional $500,000 in borrowing in order to maintain the integrity of the initial design.

Once again, library leaders also pledged to engage in private fundraising to cover the remaining cost overrun.

In describing the project Monday, Clark said the new library would have a separate youth services wing, a separate teen room, an adult services wing and a quiet reading room, along with what she called a community gathering space. There will also be significant technology upgrades.

When it’s complete the new building will be nearly 18,000 square feet in size. The original farmhouse building and a 1964 addition have been razed and will be completely replaced, while the 1995 entry lobby and Russell Room will be renovated.

While construction is ongoing, the library is being temporarily housed at the Mason-Motz Activity Center at 190 Middle Road.

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