ORLEANS — It's not the imposing black monolith from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” but the proposed six-foot-tall enclosed sewer pump station control panel at the entrance to Snow Library's parking lot was a bit of a shock to some.
“I think we're kind of gobsmacked here,” library trustees chair Mary Beth Fincke told town officials and consultants who presented the proposal to her board Oct. 9. Later, she said, “Right now, we're kind of in a deer-in-the-headlights situation. We need to evaluate the information you've given us.”
The control panel would be located on a landscaped red brick patio along with two ground-level aluminum hatches leading to below-grade chambers, AECOM Senior Program Director Tom Parece said. The only other above-ground element would be a back-up generator, possibly in the far corner of the library's rear parking lot.
“We have been working on the downtown sewer collection system project for more years than I can count,” said Selectmen Chairman Alan McClennen. As part of that project, “we need to locate a pumping station somewhere on library property.” That's because it sits at a low point in the system that will require pumps to give the wastewater stream a push toward the new treatment plant. Other downtown pumping stations are planned for Old Tote Road and the Stop & Shop.
“Where we put (the pumping station) on the site will not impact the short-term or long-term demands of the library, and may help improve the parking lot by adding a few more spots,” Parece said. Planning is being done, McClennen stressed, “with a full understanding of the work the library trustees are doing on a new facility in the near future. The pumping station work will be done before you get involved in the final design of the library, in all probability.”
Fincke wondered why “the trustees were not brought in at the beginning” of planning for the pumping station, and asked whether other locations had been considered. “It sounds like we're late to the game,” she said.
DPW/Natural Resources Director Tom Daley said consultants had looked at the nearby Window on the Cove, but noted the conservation commission's jurisdiction there and a possible conflict with the stormwater management work being carried out. There were “conversations” about Academy Place (the library's former home, which now hosts memorials to those who served in America's wars), but its status as a park raised issues.
Another option discussed last week was the village green. “The facilities committee in planning for a future library did not want to go into the village green,” Fincke said. “It's kind of a sacred area in town. I wonder why you didn't pick on them instead of us.”
As with Academy Place, McClennen noted, “the village green may be (state) Chapter 79 land and we can't use it” for such purposes. He promised to “double-check” that status and report back to the trustees.
If the control panel and hatches patio could be shifted to the right of the parking lot onto library property that meets the village green, it could take advantage of the downward slope to reduce the perceived height of the six-foot panel from the sidewalk.
Daley ticked off the advantages of the plan for the library: additional parking spaces, paving of the lot, sidewalk and handicap accessibility improvements, a dedicated walkway to the village green from the library. Also, “you'll have no need of a septic system anymore,” he said. “All you'll need is a pipe out. You don't have to worry about maintaining a septic system. We will tie you in...We're trying to make this a nice opportunity for the library for a bit of a face lift without impacting your future plans.”
Invited by Fincke to comment, Library Director Tavi Prugno said that “a new parking lot having handicapped parking spaces relocated closer to the door is a very big positive aspect. Probably the number three complaint we receive is, 'Why are the handicap spaces so far from the front door?'”
Officials agreed to look into questions raised and return to the trustees at the board's November meeting with answers. Among other things, Fincke said, she wants “locations of sites we can go see in the ground, and any other ideas about landscaping. I'd like to see a schematic with the parking lot moved further into our property line.”
“We hear your concerns,” Buildings and Facilities Manger Ron Collins had told the trustees earlier. “I don't think this is cast in stone. I think we can go back and take a look at a couple of things and maybe come up with some different options.”
Within the hour, AECOM staff and others were seen roaming the village green and the library's parking lot on their own odyssey to locate a “monolith.”