ELLSWORTH, Maine — With the outcome of Tuesday’s local referendum election, library officials have pledged to go back to the drawing board to put together another proposal for renovating the city’s library.
Local voters had been asked whether the city should borrow $4.95 million to upgrade the Ellsworth Public Library, but rejected the measure Tuesday by a vote of 894-604. According to city officials, more than 1,500 of the city’s nearly 5,600 registered voters, or about about 27 percent, cast ballots in Tuesday’s election.
The library’s board of trustees issued a prepared statement Tuesday night indicating that the panel respects the will of the voters but still believes something needs to be done about the Tisdale House portion of the library, which was built in 1817 and is in need of major renovations.
“Of the feedback we heard, people are upset about taxes in Ellsworth. We understand that — we all live here too,” Ron Fortier, chairman of the board of trustees, said in the statement. “We felt that now is the least expensive time to do the work that will need to be done. The other option is to find a new location and build a new library, which is more expensive than the preservation work. But we will do our best to let this vote sink in for a few weeks, and then figure out a way to move forward.”
Library officials had indicated prior to the vote that, if the bond proposal was approved, they planned to move the Tisdale House so rock ledge could be blasted away to make room for a finished, concrete-foundation basement. Currently, the Tisdale House has only crawl space underneath it.
The project also was to include new plumbing, electrical, heating and ventilation systems and a significant insulation upgrade while maintaining the historic appearance of the building.
Fortier added that, despite the outcome of the vote, the library has a great deal of support from residents of Ellsworth and surrounding towns.
“We live in a supportive community where people are there for each other,” he said. “The library will continue to be there for this community, and we know that this community will be there to help us figure out a path forward as well.”