February 25, 2013

Richmond resident believes new library building can be erected with available funds

By Keith Edwards kedwards@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

RICHMOND — The latest and cheapest proposal to build a new public library could find its funds in money the town already has on the books.

Resident Steve Musica has been working with a lumber company to design and price out a proposed new library. It would take the place of the former Umberhine Public Library building that was torn down two years ago because it was in disrepair.

Musica said he estimates a 3,000-square-foot, single-story library building could be built for about $235,000, on the old library site at 86 Main St.

That means it could be built with the approximately $247,000 already reserved in a library building fund, which is made up mostly from money transferred to the town from an endowment fund established when the library was owned by a private organization. In 2010, the library became part of the town.

On Thursday, Feb. 28at 7 p.m., at the current Umberhine Public Library, the proposed new library plans will be presented to the public. Local residents will be able to share their views of the idea as well.

“The library is an integral part of our community,” Town Manager Marian Anderson said. “We absolutely want as much public input as possible.”

Proponents have argued for a new library building for years, even decades, but past efforts have never resulted in a construction project. The library currently operates out of leased space at 164 Main St.

At town meeting in 2008, voters agreed to allow the town to borrow $300,000 if the remainder of the money to build a new library were raised within three years. That was for a more ambitious plan, since shelved, to construct a $1.2 million library.

Town officials have discussed a cheaper library project, and Musica recently asked selectmen for permission to see what he could come up with by working with a lumber company to design the building.

“I’ve gone through different aborted attempts to build a new library, back in the 1990s, another in the 2000s and this last one,” Musica said. “They came up with really expensive plans. The town isn’t going to spend $900,000 or $1 million for a library. This one came in under the $247,000, using local contractors and with the town acting as the general contractor.”

Anderson said Musica has kept selectmen updated on his general plans, though the board has not taken any votes on whether to support the proposal.

Anderson said Musica’s proposal appears more fiscally responsible than previous ones.
“My understanding is the goal was to build the library for the funds the town has available,” Anderson said. “He’s been meeting with contractors, to get some real numbers; he’s been working very diligently, just as a volunteer and Richmond resident.”

Musica and Anderson said it’s likely not a requirement that the proposal go before voters for approval at the next town meeting in April, because the money is already in a fund for library construction. However, they both said it would be wise to present the proposal to voters at the town meeting.

“Politically, I think it’s a good idea,” Musica said.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647
kedwards@centralmaine.com

click image to enlarge

A worker removes materials from the interior of the former Umberhine Public Library building in Richmond while demolishing the building in 2011. Resident Steve Musica believes a 3,000-square-foot library building can be constructed for $235,000, money the town has on hand for a new structure.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

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