THE SITE PLAN for the proposed new Tuftonboro Free Library, which would be located behind and to the left of the current library building on Middle Road. (Courtesy Image) (click for larger version)
February 27, 2014TUFTONBORO — Saturday, Feb. 22, was another busy day at the Tuftonboro Free Library. As patrons vacated the meeting room at the conclusion of the book and author program, other townsfolk arrived to fill their empty seats.
The literary program was, as usual, by ticket only. The programs are always free, but space is limited, so one must get a ticket first or arrive only to find no room.
The second group was there to hear the Board of Trustees present the building proposal on the warrant this year. Architect Peter Tennant and Bauen Corporation's Andre Kloetz, who served as construction manager of the fire and rescue building project were on hand to assist.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees Gordon Hunt shared two statements with the crowd that he feels everyone should bear in mind as they ponder the question of whether to support their town library. The first is that the library is the town's great equalizer. Everyone is on the same playing field. When a person walks through the door, that person can expect to get the same access to resources and the same level of attention. "It brings us all together," said Hunt.
The other is that the library is a "victim of its own success." Operating at 150 percent capacity, it's clearly a well-utilized facility. If it wasn't so popular, there would be no need for more space.
At the outset of the presentation, Trustee Paul Matlock reviewed the facts of the project. The total to be raised by the warrant at Town Meeting on March 11 is $2.6 million. $550,000 in capital reserve and accumulated by library fundraising efforts reduce that figure closer to $2 million.
The new building, positioned behind and to the left of the present library, will be twice the size, enabling the meeting room seating to increase from 50 to 92 and yield 45 parking spaces. The floor plan features an open concept to provide flexibility in use of the space and the facility will be code compliant and meet ADA access requirements.
At present, a person in a wheelchair cannot maneuver between the stacks, so must rely on the staff to access books.
Architect Richard Cary asked if the $2.6 million was the guaranteed cost. Kloetz answered yes, but said he hopes it will be less. The fire station project finished with $20,000 able to go back into the general fund.
"The risk is to the general contractor then, not the taxpayer," noted Cary.
. Tennant answered questions from Dave Ford regarding the heating system, explaining that an upper end traditional forced hot air system fueled by propane would be installed and the building would be super insulated, resulting in walls with an R factor of 30 – 40. Air conditioning would be available in the summer.
A woman asked what the arguments were among budget committee members for not doing the project. Budget committee members in attendance Tyler Phillips and Gary Chehames, who voted against the warrant, did not respond. Committee member Bob Theve, who voted in support, suggested that she read the minutes of the meetings, which contain discussions. She then asked if there was a concern that someone might sue the town because of the inaccessibility issues.
Ford asked if the library should use the old Town House for meetings, which began a discussion of alternatives. The fire station classroom has been a suggested alternative by some, but Hunt said the fire station is not open to the public, and Joan Theve noted that it is set up for 32 people. Hunt also commented that the Town House is too far from the library.
Ford asked about the effect of eliminating the meeting room wing. Tennant pointed out that if the meeting room wing is cut out of the plan, very little space would be actually be removed, for the bathrooms, mechanical room and storage space would have to stay in the plan. Also, having a room for children's activities separate from the main area allows for noise control.
Bob Theve asked if residents could expect the new building to serve the town for the next 40 years. Tennant replied that the open space would allow for flexibility over time. The library is program-driven he posited, so if the collection overloads the space, programs would need to be limited.
"How long will it take to build the new library?" asked Peg Hebden from the front row.
"Ten months," answered Kloetz.
"I want to see it!" she responded with enthusiasm.
The meeting concluded with a discussion of whether a second floor on the current building would solve the space needs problem. Tennant explained the difficulties inherent in such an option. The addition of two stairwells, an elevator and a mechanical room would leave an overall gain of just 2,000 square feet.
The internal structure would have to be shored up to bear the 150 pound per square foot load of books and shelving. It also would not alleviate the parking shortage.
The schematic plans are available for viewing at the library.