This photo, shot last summer, shows the access ramp in front of Cundy’s Harbor Library in Harpswell. A new $72,000 project aims to improve the ramp, add new dedicated parking spaces out front, and perform other needed repairs and improvements. Courtesy / Linda Prybylo

HARPSWELL — Cundy’s Harbor Library officials are gearing up for the library’s biggest renovation effort in more than 10 years, with a new project going out to bid that could cost as much as $72,000.

The overall project includes a series of much-needed improvements to the library, including expanded wheelchair access, fixing drainage and moisture problems and interior and exterior repainting, according to information town officials released on Nov. 16.

Renovations will include replacing a wheelchair ramp and upper floor deck while adding parking spaces in front of the ramp itself.

Dianne Chilmonczyk, who serves as secretary for the library’s board of directors, said the upgrades will help wheelchair-bound visitors.

“If someone wants to visit who’s confined to a wheelchair (now), they’d either have to park on the lawn or be wheeled up a ridiculous back slope,” Chilmonczyk said.

But, Chilmonczyk said, the library has had ongoing issues with drainage that means new parking spaces will get flooded during heavy rains. As a result, the board decided to fix multiple problems at once.

Chilmonczyk said the town and board will fund the project with up to $72,000 in grant money, coming largely from a community development block grant from Cumberland County, funds from the Alfred M. Senter Fund and leftover grant money from a generator upgrade the board completed last year.

According to the request for proposals, available at harpwell.maine.gov, bids are due at the Harpswell Town Office no later than 4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 18.

The library opened in 1960, when local families donated land and a foundation, while other families paid to buy and transport a building to the library’s current address at 935 Cundys Harbor Road, according to Linda Prybylo, the board’s president. The library was run by an all-volunteer staff as recently as 2002, when the board established a budget for paid staff.

“It’s always been a community effort,” Prybylo said.

This 1960 photo shows the building that would become the Cundy’s Harbor Library being delivered by truck. The library was originally built with funding and help from local residents and volunteers. Courtesy / Linda Prybylo

The library’s last major renovation, a 736-square-foot expansion project costing $100,000 in 2008, was paid for by local donors, along with contributions from other foundations, Prybylo said.

Part of the reason for such local support, Prybylo said, is the need for communal spaces in the town. With most of the land mass made up of three large peninsulas with few or no roads connecting them directly, just crossing town can be a challenge. Driving from the library to Dolphin Marina, she said, can take up to 45 minutes. That kind of isolation, she said, is part of what drove the interest in building a library: giving local area residents a focal point.

“They needed a place they could go to and see each other,” she said.

Prybylo said the area has other focal points too, such as the local fire station/community hall, but a library offers a cultural and intellectual boost that local residents welcome.

“Everybody knows that a library really adds a lot to a community’s character,” she said.

Sean Murphy 780-9094

Email: [email protected]

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