ORLEANS — The Snow Library Board of Trustees voted 4-3 Jan. 8 to support the town locating a sewer pumping station – most of it underground – on library property abutting the village green.
The decision was complicated by ongoing planning for a new or expanded library that could push the library east to accommodate more parking and full vehicle access around the building.
AECOM project engineer Reggie Donahue ran through four site options: two locations set back, one farther than the other, from Main Street; one on Main Street at the existing entrance to the library; and one in the northwest corner abutting Friends' Marketplace.
Donahue said the town's tree warden was quite concerned about the sacrifices the northwest option would require. “There's a significant oak by the entrance of the site that would have to go,” Donahue said. “There are two honey locusts across the front, and a Norway maple in back.” The site would require deeper excavation as well.
Building a brick courtyard with screening for the pump station, which would hold small structures including a control panel, pump vault, and valve vault just off Main Street at the library's entrance, offered some engineering advantages such as ease of access from the road. But, Donahue said, “it probably has the most visual impact of all the options.”
Putting the station's above-ground control units as far back on the property as possible was AECOM's and the town's preferred option. “It would have the least impact from a visual standpoint,” said Donahue. Two access ways would be extended from the rear of the library's main parking lot: one for service vehicles to reach the station and another to provide access for all.
Stephen Hale and Oscar Morales, two architects who have been consulted on the library development project, said none of the options would eliminate the potential for a building double the size of the existing library plus improved parking and vehicle access. Based on a 32,600-square-foot structure, 81 or 82 parking spaces would be required; the current lot has 36.
Both architects said they preferred the option ranked first by AECOM and the town. “I agree with Mr. Donahue,” Hale said. “It's better farther back. Farther down there is aesthetically the better option.”
After a brief excursion to walk the site, the trustees returned to the Marion Craine Gallery and began to discuss the locations. Chairman Mary Beth Fincke led off by saying a vote was premature.
“I'm suggesting that we have a public meeting so townspeople can understand what the consequences are and weigh in on the conversation,” she said. Saying she understood that planners need a decision on the pump station's location to bring to town meeting in May, she said, “I also feel people will be very concerned and frustrated and angry about the change to the terrain adjacent to the green and the library.”
Selectman Chairman Alan McClennen, his board's liaison to the trustees, said he had explained publicly that a pumping station at the library would be an element of the downtown sewer system, and that town meeting had voted unanimously to proceed with the design.
“I don't think having an open public meeting would add constructively to the decision-making process,” trustee Steven Gass said. “I think we trustees represent the public here. We're all citizens of Orleans. We were elected to handle this responsibility.” Trustee Cheryl Bryan agreed, noting that it's taken the trustees “two or three months to come up to speed and understand the issues... We were a little out of our league when this was thrown on our plate. (The town) has done a very good job of trying to bring us in and afford us an opportunity (to comment).”
Bryan and Gass parted company when she moved to endorse the back-of-the-property option and he expressed support for the Main Street entrance option. Fincke announced the favorable vote for the former and added, “with plenty of greenery.”
On Jan. 4, the library's facilities advisory committee reviewed and commented on an executive summary for a proposed building program prepared by consultant Mary Braney, along with related documents.