The Waterville library building was sold this past Friday and the new owner has given the library one year to move before beginning his commercial plans for his new purchase.
During the Oct. 4 Town Council meeting, the council members discussed the issue and decided that it may be time to look at purchasing or building a new structure downtown to house the library. Mayor Jill Thompson said the current market has revealed the vulnerabilities to multiple town services if they continue to rent.
“I think the hot real estate market really showed the vulnerabilities of some of our services, like the ambulance and the library, who are dependent upon basically subsidized rentals and certain space to be able to function. It may be time to think about getting us out of the rental market altogether and owning the building ourselves,” said Mayor Thompson.
The council agreed with this assessment and realized they need to begin looking at options quickly to make sure that the library has a new home in time.
“We need to move forward. We’ve got a year. It sounds like a long time, but that’s not a long time,” said Councilmember Joyce Huber.
Councilmember Michael Davies agreed and said at least considering owning the new home for the library is in the town’s best interest.
“We’re probably going to save the town and the library a lot of heartaches later,” said Davies.
The council also realized that the commercial spaces available in town that could house the library are limited and have the potential to have a lot of costly issues that need to be updated before the library could even move in. Councilmember Loyd Smith insisted that a thorough inspection be done before entering a commitment for any existing downtown commercial building. It was a responsible step that the rest of the council agreed to.
The further discussion also revealed that there is a chance that the new owner of the current library building may consider selling to the town, which would save the town the cost of moving and either building or updating a building. However, this was recognized as not being a certainty and the new owner may not even consider it for six months, putting the town in a time crunch if they wait for this possibility without looking at other options.
As an initial plan of action, the council agreed to have initial conversations with the current library building’s owner about selling the building to Waterville. Meanwhile, they will arrange to have inspections of some of the current available downtown commercial buildings that are for sale by qualified contractors to examine the feasibility and cost of updating a new location if they must move and choose to purchase instead of renting.
Regardless of whatever option the town moves forward with, the Town Council is being proactive about quickly getting more information to help them make a sound decision that they believe will be in the best interest of the residents of Waterville while continuing to provide library services.