Kittery library board pitches land buy to community center

newsKittery library board pitches land buy to community center

Trustees seek approval to purchase acre of land abutting KCC campus
August 21, 2014 2:00 AM

KITTERY, Maine — The Rice Public Library Board of Trustees is looking to purchase about an acre of land abutting the Kittery Community Center for a new library building — but is seeking buy-in from the KCC board before it proceeds any further.

While trustees did not on the whole get a ringing endorsement, neither were they sent packing when they presented their plan at a KCC board meeting Wednesday.

The library board announced that it will be working with resident Barry Fitzpatrick, who owns nearly 4 acres on Rogers Road. One edge of the property runs along the KCC land near the annex and ballfield.

“They’ve been looking for land for seven years. I said, ‘OK, if I have to have a neighbor, I would love to have a library,'” Fitzpatrick told the KCC board. Fitzpatrick grew up in Kittery and has recently moved back to town. “My family has a legacy of doing things to benefit Kittery. I think this would be a magnificent spot for a library.”

Library Director Lee Perkins emphasized that there is not even a purchase and sale agreement on the property, but said Fitzpatrick is willing to work with the library as it seeks to raise funds for the land and a proposed 20,000-square-foot building.

Architect Mike Lassel presented what he sees as a very preliminary sketch that shows the library filling most of the acre, with some green space behind the building.

In front, he envisioned a parking lot holding 50 to 70 spaces partly on KCC land that would be shared with the KCC.

Lassel and Perkins both alluded to the past troubled relationship between the two boards, referring to when the library wanted to build on KCC land and the KCC decided to retain all of its property.

“We wanted to come to you first, because this is a relationship that we want to foster,” Lassel said.

KCC members suggested that the library board speak with fire and police officials, as they may have emergency access issues with the proposal that need to be addressed. Jeff Thomson, who is also chairman of the Town Council, said the library board should also talk with the council before proceeding much further.

KCC Board Chairman Steve Workman also wanted more details on the building and maintenance of the shared parking lot. The KCC has identified parking as a future need, however.

“There are a lot of big things that happen here when the library is not open. At that point, the parking becomes an advantage to you,” Perkins said.

Don Kerr, who serves on both boards, called the concept “an amazingly exciting opportunity. To get them on the community center campus is an idea a lot of people have wanted for a long time,” he said.