Waterville Public Library Director Tammy Rabideau looks down a concrete ramp. She is looking forward to replacing the ramp with steps at the 1905 building in Waterville. The building will still have a ramp at another entrance. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

WATERVILLE — The City Council on Tuesday voted 7-0 to award more than $140,000 in contracts to companies that will help restore the Waterville Public Library.

The contracts include $86,382 to H.T. Winters Co. to replace old carpeting on all floors of the library with carpet tiles; $35,000 to $39,000 to J.S. Industrial Arts Co. LLC for exterior window restoration; and $20,000 to OPAC Design Services to replace the ramp outside the north side of the library with stairs.

J.S. Industrial restored the woodwork in the building as part of a separate project approved last year. The library projects will be funded with money from a bond approved in 2019.

In response to a question from Councilor Rebecca Green, D-Ward 4, about the unused ramp on the north side of the library building, library Director Tammy Rabideau said it has been a subject of conversation for 15 years. Funds from the 2019 bond allowed officials to analyze and understand requirements regarding the ramp. It was determined the ramp is not needed, but a safe egress is required in that location, according to Rabideau. She said the ramp can be replaced with stairs. The ramp, installed about 50 years ago, and a failing door there do not meet code, she said. The building has a ramp on the Appleton Street side of the building.

Rabideau said she is “very, very optimistic” that a cost-effective solution to the problems will be identified.

Green and councilors Tom Klepach, D-Ward 3, and Rick Foss, R-Ward 5, thanked Rabideau and commended her for keeping the library running and providing services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ongoing projects at the library, including upgrading of windows and restoration of woodwork, were completed in January. The flooring replacement is expected to be done this year and the work will start soon, Rabideau said earlier this week. The window sashes and exterior panes have been replaced, and work done on interior frames. Now, exterior work needs to be done, Rabideau said.

The library has been closed to the public since last March, but it has remained very busy, conducting library-to-go services Monday through Friday, offering virtual programs and dispersing 900 art and science kits.

In other business Tuesday, the council voted 7-0 to appoint a committee to find a permanent location for the City Council to meet. That panel also will look at short and medium-term options. Council Chairman Erik Thomas, D-Ward 7, and councilors Mike Morris, D-Ward 1, and Claude Francke, D-Ward 6, will serve on the committee.

Council meetings were held in the Chace Forum at the Bill & Joan Alfond Main Street Commons downtown. Colby College, which owns the building, closed it to the public after the pandemic hit. After that, the council met for a while at the Mid-Day Cafe at Mid-Maine Technical Center at Waterville Senior High School. Meetings were eventually held virtually.

When council meetings were held at the Alfond Commons in 2019 at no charge to the city, some people argued that the city should find a location of its own. Some said they did not think it was appropriate to hold city meetings at a Colby-owned facility. Some objected to meeting there because Colby only allows law enforcement to carry firearms in its buildings. Some people said they had a difficult time hearing what was said at meetings from the rear of the room.

Councilors Tuesday took a final, 7-0 vote to rezone about 40 acres off Eight Rod Road from Rural Residential to Solar Farm District to allow a solar farm to be constructed there. Cleantap Energy, which will build the farm, and L/A Properties LLC, which will lease the property to Cleantap, requested the change. Officials from Cleantap said a little more than 14 acres will be used for the $5 million solar farm and part of the property will become a green space for the community to use for gardening and walking dogs.

The council also voted 7-0 to authorize the appropriation of $75,000 of additional funding for expenditures related to COVID-19; 7-0 to appoint City Manager Steve Daly, former City Manager Michael Roy and Morris to the Kennebec Regional Development Authority; and 7-0 to support an application to Project Canopy, Tree Planting and Maintenance Grant at the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, for an $8,000 grant to plant trees at four public parks. Daly said the grant requires a match that will be fulfilled by in-kind services from the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Daly also reported on the city’s mid-year financials in his manager’s report, saying that revenues as of the end of December were about 17% ahead of the mid-year expectation of 50%, and expenses were “right on the mark at 50%.”


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