FARMINGTON — Trustees of the Farmington Public Library say they have concerns about plans for the proposed Emery Community Art Center at the University of Maine at Farmington.

In a statement, trustees said they “have concluded that the current plan for the northeast quadrant will do irreparable harm to the integrity of the library building envelope and structure and to library functions.”

“Continuing to serve the community to the best of our ability is my major concern,” Librarian Melanie Taylor Coombs said. “It comes down to the fact, we’re here to serve people and the impact could be detrimental on us. If patrons can’t easily access the building, it’s detrimental.”

That ability could be affected with the proposed art center located 14 feet from the library’s addition blocking access to the library from the western side of the building.

Concerns considered by the trustees include not only access but the potential recurrence of drainage issues, parking and the impact on aesthetics and light for the library as an art center wall wipes out an old tree and blocks the light from the opening between the library, the theater and Merrill Hall.

“We’ll sit in the shadow of a wall,” Coombs said.

The eastern wall of the art center extends beyond a large, old and colorful tree sitting between the library and Merrill Hall. It’s a backdrop to the entrance of the library, she said.

A good percentage of library patrons park on Academy Street and walk through the space as the library has five regular and one handicapped parking spaces. The art center will be a strain on parking in the area affecting patrons, she said.
Public need to be aware of the project is another concern, she added. The town’s Planning Board will walk over the project Wednesday at 3 p.m. Project stakes outline the footprint of the proposed art center. The public may also attend. This meeting precedes a public hearing planned for the next board meeting on Aug. 10 at the Municipal Building.

The Library was closed in 2007 for three weeks to deal with water damage. Foundation work and better drainage was included. Some new issues arose last summer when the roof was repaired, she said.

The potential for future problems with construction 14 feet away is of concern, Coombs said. There’s also the possibility of issues caused by a build up of snow between the art center and library.

The library was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. Studies have shown that downtown libraries and buildings on the register are a benefit to the community, Coombs said. The library is an “essential town service,” she said.
The Maine Historic Preservation Commission also voiced concerns in regards to the proposed art center setting within the Farmington Historic District. Discussion of a letter drafted by Commission Director Earle Shuttleworth Jr. is expected at the Aug. 10 public hearing.

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The proposed Emery Community Art Center east wall extends to post marker visible just north of the tree and shrubs or about 14 feet from Farmington Public Library’s west wall. The old, colorful tree will be replaced by a wall. Drainage issues between the two buildings are also of concern to library trustees, said Librarian Melanie Taylor Coombs.

The proposed Emery Community Art Center east wall extends to a post
marker visible just north of the tree and shrubs or about 14 feet from
Farmington Public Library’s west wall. The old, colorful tree will be
replaced by a wall. Drainage issues between the two buildings are also
of concern to library trustees, said Librarian Melanie Taylor Coombs, standing next to proposed outline of art center.

The proposed Emery Community Art Center east wall would change the view of the Farmington Public Library with elimination of a large, old tree between the library, Alumni Theater and Merrill Hall. Access to the library from between the buildings would be eliminated also, said Librarian Melanie Taylor Coombs.

From the eastside wall of Alumni Theater, the proposed Emery Community Art Center extends to post
marker visible just north of the tree and shrubs or about 14-feet from
Farmington Public Library’s west wall. The old, colorful tree will be
replaced by a wall.  Access to the library and drainage issues between the two buildings are also
of concern to library trustees, said Librarian Melanie Taylor Coombs.


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