July 17, 2014TUFTONBORO — Tuftonboro's Library Building Advisory Committee (LBAC) concluded its latest meeting, held July 14 Central Fire Station, with an 8-0 vote in support of soliciting architectural design bids for an alternative building plan.
Committee member Skip Hurt told voters at Town Meeting in March that he had an alternate plan for a new library, and on Monday night he had the full attention of the committee and interested members of the public for his presentation.
He expressed skepticism at the start of the meeting that an alternate plan would pass muster with the Tuftonboro Free Library's Board of Trustees, whose plan failed to reach the two-thirds majority required for passage, but he had no doubt that his proposal would cost less.
Jim Allan, also a member of the LBAC, emphasized to those present that whatever it comes up with, it must cost less to gain the support of the budget committee.
An accurate cost assessment for Hurt's proposal is impossible without a more definite plan. The committee voted to move forward on that with the reminder from former selectman and County Commissioner Chip Albee, who served as Clerk of the Works for construction of the Mountain View Nursing Home that the spending of public funds, in this case around $20,000 in capital reserve approved by the selectmen for design work, requires advertising and adherence to the bidding policy.
A significant feature of Hurt's plan is the location of the library across the street on the Dearborn property. Another is the two level concept, with the windowless lower level built into the ground. Hurt's plan would be close to the 10,000 square feet of the trustee's last plan, but the two levels would allow for a foundation and roof nearly half the size.
His concept includes a west or southwest facing glass front to take advantage of solar energy and the use of materials excavated on site.
Hurt said "it would be almost criminal not to use the lot" for, in his view, it lends itself to outdoor activities such as sledding in the winter for one, and there is room for future expansion.
Some issues raised were the inclusion of the cistern, required by law, the increased staff needed to serve two floors (Hurt suggested an intercom system and volunteer help), and children crossing the street from the school, but Albee said, " You could easily gain a hundred votes for a change in design…this is much more saleable [rather than] an asset hiding in the woods (a reference to the plan to build on the back of the present library lot)."
Jackie Rollins said that she questioned voters both pro and con after town meeting and found that the main objection was the location. Those who voted for it, voted because they agreed with the need for a larger library, but the location was not favored. Others simply voted no, based on the location.
"I am open to the plan," said library co-director Christie Sarles. "I'm supportive of whatever it takes to get there. Please believe that."
Trustee Paul Matlock, the board's representative on the committee, said, "You're asking if we should proceed [to investigate Hurt's plan]? Yes!"
Hurt, who had called the Board of Trusttes's approval "the big gorilla in the room," said, " It has been a real struggle for me to get to this point."
Allan reiterated that whatever the plan, it has to cost less than the one that just went up for a vote, but at this point, everyone was in favor of exploring Hurt's alternative concept.