FORMER CO-CHAIRMAN of the Library Building Committee Carla Lootens asks questions following Skip Hurt's presentation on May 5 of his idea to expand on the current library rather than build new. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
May 11, 2017TUFTONBORO — Skip Hurt, a member of the Library Building Advisory Committee (LBAC) that developed a proposal to present to voters at the 2016 town meeting, asked for a chance to talk about his idea for a renovation of the current library. He told those filling seats in the training room at Central Station last Friday, May 5, that his plan could avoid the need for the two-thirds majority that the current $2.6 million dollar design must muster for passage.
In his opinion, involving building a cantilevered roof, could expand the size of the building from its present 3,900 square feet to a total of 8,625 square feet for $1.3 million, an amount that he said would eliminate the need for a bond. With access to the $400,000 in capital reserve and the nearly $300,000 raised by library fundraising activity over the years, the town " could actually start work right away" creating the driveway and clearing trees.
In his view, "It would fit in quite nicely with the fundraising going on." At the same time, the library could be open continuously. If the project came out short on funds, a warrant article for the shortfall could be put before the voters in March.
Hurt said that based on the size of the garage suggested in plans for a renovated police facility, his plan could include an open space for a meeting room to accommodate 100 visitors. His 4,725 square foot expansion would cost, by his estimate, $250 per square foot.
"It would be foolish to wait another year," said Hurt, who added that it would take "guts and leadership" to make it happen.
When he finished, the questions came quickly in response from the audience, comprised of library trustees, LBAC members, and members of the Friends of the Library
Carla Lootens, Co-Vice Chairman of the LBAC with Helen Hartshorne, expressed concern as a taxpayer that investigation of another plan would cost additional money, and said that engineer Jim Rines of White Mountain Survey stands by the wetlands study that showed building limitations on the site.
Hartshorne said she was not sure that a two-thirds vote could be avoided. Her understanding is that the money is not to be expended until a project receives approval. Gordon Hunt, chairman of the library trustees, said there is a timeframe involved in developing a concept. "Right now, you're talking about a shell," he said. "What about the inner workings of the library?" Hurt said it would be open inside.
Architect Anthony Mento, of SMP Architects, commented that a schematic design should be done, a job that usually takes about two months at a cost of around $18,000. He said the SMP team would cover multiple approaches. He recalled that in earlier surveys people had indicated a preference for a traditional style. As for timing, it wouldn't be until the end of the year before the company could begin something in earnest.
As for a renovation, "it is easier to build new than use an existing structure." A renovation would have to adjust to the existing layout. Hurt said to be fair, he'd like to see his plan priced out.
Dave Ford, LBAC Chairman, said that wetland issues could not be dismissed. Any plan would have to explain how the wetlands would be mitigated. He complimented Hurt on his perseverance, but noted that additional factors have to be considered, such as the cost of windows, floors, an electrical system to replace the present 40-year-old infrastructure. He pointed out that codes have changed and systems would have to be updated, adding,"We want a building that will last another 50 years, with flexibility for the future, something to be proud of," said Ford.
He commented that the plan, for which fundraising has been progressing, met with opposition that the LBAC didn't anticipate: "We didn't sell it very well. The 'just say no' crowd turned up and we ended up 20 votes short."
Lootens observed that the current library does not have air conditioning, another cost to add to Hurt's estimate, and then there is the matter of the need for a new police facility.
Selectman Chip Albee told Hurt that the trustees and the committee have to come to an agreement and noted there is no agreement on a design.
Andre Kloetz, construction manager for Bauen Corporation, assigned to the committee's present plan, said Hurt has a "valid proposal" but said the present foundation wasn't designed to hold the weight of the proposed cantilevered roof.
"The reality," said Mento, is that a full building structural analysis would be in order to assess its longevity potential.
Hurt said he came up with the plan out of frustration, "I've caught my limit of bumbling over the last 12 years." His intent is to solve the need for more space for those who enjoy the library.
The meeting concluded with a statement from Hunt that the trustees would take up the matter at the board's next meeting. Until then, the fundraising effort, said to have garnered $100,000 in pledges and poised to advance into high gear, is on hold. Committee members can't very well solicit donations with the present uncertainty.
A DVD of the meeting is available for check out at the Tuftonboro Free Library.