MILBRIDGE, Maine — Whether it’s 300 feet or 3,000 miles, moving is always a pain.
Milbridge town officials were feeling that pain on Thursday and will again in days to come as they undertake the laborious process of relocating the town office, the library, the police department and the ambulance service into a newly constructed building 300 feet from the old building on School Street that has served as the town’s municipal center for decades.
What was proposed as a $590,000 project is expected to come in about $15,000 under budget, Town Manager Lewis Pinkham said Thursday while overseeing the move.
The building project was funded with the help of a $258,000 Community Development Block Grant provided through the state’s Office of Economic Development. The town had been authorized to put up an additional $320,000, with $160,000 coming from a 15-year loan, $65,000 from the library’s endowment fund, $60,000 from surplus funds and $35,000 from a building reserve fund.
The project involves demolition of the circa-1900 town office building and an adjacent meeting hall. The new building expands the town’s library from a labyrinth of 1,204 square feet to 1,831 square feet of contiguous space, with about 30 percent of the new space being devoted to books and an area for children’s programming.
“It’s taken us three weeks to pack up what’s turned out to be 10,000 books,” said Melissa Smith-Rapa, the town’s librarian. She’s excited by the move but is still awaiting word from a Bangor-based foundation overseen by Stephen and Tabitha King about a $35,000 grant application for new library shelving.
The library has been shut down for the past three weeks to accommodate packing for the move. Smith-Rapa said Thursday it will likely be at least two more weeks until the library reopens in its new digs.
“We’ll have one-third more space than we’ve had,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Pinkham said the old town office building, which was originally erected as a school, will be demolished around May 1. That building’s footprint will evolve into parking when School Street is resurfaced all the way to Bridge Street, most likely in June or July, Pinkham said.
Pinkham said the town plans to host an open house to show off the new space, most likely in April.
While the town office has been closed during the move, Pinkham expects everything to be up and running by early next week, once phone and computer connections are in place.
Given the fact that construction began only four months ago, Pinkham is pleased that the project was completed as quickly as it was.
“The contractors were really good to work with,” he said. “When we did our final walk-through on Tuesday, there were maybe 10 or 15 touch-up items, nothing significant.”
Correction: A photo caption in an earlier version of this story contained a misspelled name. The library volunteer in the photo is Debbie Sagaas.