By Gail Craig - July 13, 2006

Since I haven't received much news this week, I've been asked to share news about the proposed Edgartown Library expansion, as it is currently a fairly important topic for our community. As the original proposal met with some concerns about lack of public information, size, and parking, a committee was established by the Selectmen last summer with the task of revising the plan and addressing some of the issues in question. That committee, the Joint Advisory Committee (JAC), spent about 10 months hashing out a new plan, which decreased the overall size and appearance of the building, and doubled the number of parking spaces. Once the JAC members felt that they had fulfilled their mission, they turned it back over to the Board of Trustees, who formed a Development Committee to move the plan forward. This is where I should divulge that I am a member of this committee.

Last week, the Board of Trustees and the Development Committee gave a brief presentation of the current plan at the Selectmen's meeting. Jeff Agnoli, chair of the JAC and member of the Development Committee, presented an excellent synopsis of events as they have occurred over the last year. Joanne Gosser, a well-known local architect and member of the Development Committee as well, gave a brief review of the current plan from an architectural standpoint, detailing the changes that have taken place since the original plan.

The next step for the Development Committee and Trustees is to go before the Edgartown ZBA and the planning board, in a joint meeting, to request to have the new plan reviewed. This meeting is scheduled for July 26 at 7:45 pm at the Edgartown Town Hall. The public is encouraged to attend, to show their support for the new library and/or gain more detailed information regarding the plan.

Now, on to the nitty gritty of the new proposal and what changes have been made, courtesy of Dot Dropick, another member of the Development Committee, who has created a clear and concise outline of the project.

The 2006 Plan is a more efficient utilization of a smaller building. Square footage is decreased by 14.7 percent, yet parking is increased by 120 percent to accommodate 22 off-street parking spaces. Space below grade level is developed for greater functionality and the visual impact of the new design blends better with the neighborhood. The overall volume of the new plan is 23 percent smaller than the 2005 plan. Currently, the Warren House is not suitable for public use. There is no handicap access, wood has decayed, and a preliminary engineering report noted that the flooring is too weak for book stacks. Extensive work and cost would have to be incurred for any usage. The new 2006 Plan incorporates the Warren House property, although it would be substantially gutted. Alternatively, a new look-alike structure could be utilized in the plan at a savings of approximately $175,000. The 2006 Plan moves the original 1904 Carnegie Library, which is literally only the two front rooms and the front hall, closer to North Water Street in order to create additional parking spaces in the rear of the property. The Warren House would also be moved closer to the Carnegie Library structure to allow a one-way semi-circular driveway with safer ingress and egress. This will allow for the creation of a parking lot in the back providing 22 parking spaces, which is double that of the original plan.

As for the costs and financing of the plan, the Town purchased the Warren House property in 2005 for $3.5 million with the intention of utilizing the property for library needs. The $7.47 million estimated construction costs for the 2006 plan will hopefully be funded through private donations, foundation grants, and a construction grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners.

The 2006 Plan must receive all town government regulatory approvals, and then a review of the final plan must be submitted to the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, which could take from two to six months, possibly more. If approved, the challenging task of fundraising can resume. Unless the town voters agree to bond the project, it would have to be substantially funded prior to construction, which is estimated to then take approximately 25 months.

For more information or to see the plans, call 508-627-1373, stop in to see the drawing boards at the library or visit their web site at www.edpublib.vineyard.net.

In other library news, they now have available for loan a device, called the Home Energy Detective Kit, which is provided by the Cape Light Compact's Kill-A-Watt Library Project. This handy dandy little kit helps you figure out the efficiency of your household appliances. I'm not sure I really want to know that bit of information, with electricity prices being what they are, but I'm guessing it's probably useful information to have.

I received the only other legitimate news for the column this week from Catherine Curry, who shared that Duncan L. Curry, great-grandson of Donald W. Vose of Edgartown, was named New England Dive Champion in the One Meter at a meet at Roger Williams College in March. The last time Maine was represented in the New England competition was in 1979. Duncan, who graduated from Mt. Ararat High School in Topsham, Maine, in June, was honored because he is the top diver in New England. He will attend Maine Maritime Academy in Castine, Maine in the fall but will likely visit the Vineyard and Tower Hill with his mother and father before then, as he does every summer.

Have a great week, and be sure to get me your news.