Skip Hurt attended the library trustees’ meeting this morning to show them a plan he’s been working on for expanding the existing library building. Skip was a member of the since-disbanded library building advisory committee and publicly supported the old plan to build a new library across the street from the existing one. That plan failed to get the required 2/3 vote of approval from Town Meeting in 2015.
In a follow up message this evening he reiterated to me a point he had made to the trustees: “I’ve run into two people who were on the advisory committee that stated to me they were no longer going to vote for the current proposal. I’m no longer going to support it or vote for it. That makes three people of the committee that will not be voting or endorsing it. Jim Allen, who was on the committee, has moved so that means four out of the nine [on the committee] will not be voting for the $2.2 million building.”
With commercial building costs ranging from $150 to $250 per square foot, Skip is estimating that his plan to expand the current library building would come in at the high range of just over a million dollars. “The beauty of it,” he said, “is you can start this now.” The building could be expanded in sections, using funds that are already available in the library capital reserve fund. (Later in the meeting, Treasurer Marsha Hunter confirmed there is $696,832 in the library capital reserve fund including the $75,000 that was approved by town meeting last month.)
Skip noted that his plan would cost more than $1 million less than the 2015 plan. That means that the amount of funds that would need to be appropriated at next year’s Town Meeting in order to finish the project would not be large enough to trigger the 2/3 vote requirement, increasing its likelihood of passing.
In addition, Skip’s plan would actually produce a building 400 square feet larger than the failed building across the street. He would expand the current building out over the front parking lot toward Middle Road. Then he would extend the back of the building out as well, covering the walkway that currently leads to the back entrance. Likely the main entrance would be moved from the front of the building to the side facing the fire pond. All the plumbing in the building, he explained, could stay in the same place, which would be a substantial costs saving, although the electrical and HVAC would need to be upgraded.
He would place a new parking lot in the woods behind the library, but he noted that the existing parking lot on the side of the building would remain. The walk from the parking lot to the building would be similar to what it is in Wolfeboro, he said.
Skip said he had spoken to numerous contractors while developing his plan. He also urged the trustees to engage an architect, but suggested they note use the architect who had made the plans for the building across the street, saying it would be perceived in the public as a conflict of interest.
Librarian Christie Sarles and Trustee Mary Anne Murray said they’d like more information about what the interior of the renovated building might look like. Skip said that the architect would have to work out those details.
Although they weren’t entirely sold on the spot, the trustees expressed their appreciation to Skip for coming up with a new plan. Skip will be meeting with the board of selectmen at their meeting on April to go over the plan, and the trustees said they would like to attend that meeting as well.
Guy Pike also had an idea for the town to purchase the plot of land at the corner of Union Wharf and Middle Roads for the purpose of a new police building. He said that the project could be done, with the purchase of land and the construction of a building, at no additional cost to the taxpayer by using funds already raised from taxes that are currently in the police building capital reserve fund as well as over a million dollars in the undesignated fund. At that point, said Guy, the library could either renovate the existing building, or build a new building across the street, without the connection to the police building that has been weighing it down for years.
Chairman Gordon Hunt explained his comments from Town Meeting that the “library will get built,” saying that he had meant that in some form or another that a new library would be constructed. “Something is going to get done, because the needs of the community need to be addressed. At the same time, as I say, nothing is set in stone. We’re going to look at everything.”
Guy thanked the trustees for running an open meeting and for welcoming input from those in attendance. “I appreciate the openness of your meetings. It’s really the way the town of Tuftonboro aught to operate, and we do alright with this with the library trustees. And I’m very pleased with that. You guys are just folks, and folks is what we all are.”
For more details, please watch the video and also consider attending the selectmen’s meeting on April 24. In addition, if I left out anything pertinent in my write-up, I hope Skip, or any of the trustees, will clarify in the comments.
The approximate time line for the video is as follows:
0:00 Pledge of Allegiance
0:20 Skip Hurt presents plan for library renovation of current building
47:55 Guy Pike comments
57:00 Gordon Hunt “something will get done.”
58:00 Max Ledoux asked a question about fundraising
1:01:36 Regular meeting
1:03:00 approval of March 2017 Trustees Minutes.
1:04:45 Treasurer’s report
$698k in hand
1:06:18 Librarian’s report
1:16:45 Christy reported selectmen are going to explore doing payroll every other week. Treasurer thinks by law that hourly employees have to be paid weekly.
1:17:40 New Business
Drug and alcohol policy adoption
1:20:35 Clarification of circulation reporting
1:28:00 Old Business
Capital campaign committee activity (almost $100,000 in pledges)
1:30:13 motion to adjourn