Inside the Rice Public Library in Kittery, where residents in 2017 voted in favor of a plan to renovate and expand the 1888 building. Credit: Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald

KITTERY, Maine — The town has received nine design proposals for the Rice Public Library renovation and expansion project, which officials hope to see completed by October 2021.

In 2017, an overwhelming majority of voters chose a rehabilitation and addition option of a non-binding referendum question asking what the town should do with the library, which opened in 1888.

The other choices were to build a new library, or do neither.

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In the year since, the Town Council established three committees to oversee the project; one charged with handling the library’s transition from a nonprofit to a town department, one as the building committee for the expansion, and a third for the disposition of the Taylor Building, a nearby former courthouse used as a library annex.

The town put out a request for proposal for design services in October, with a due date of Nov. 8. Nine qualified proposals were submitted by the following firms: Holzmann Moss Bottino Architecture of New York City, Lavallee Bresinger Architects of Boston, Oak Point of Biddeford, Scott Simmons Architects of Portland, JSA of Portsmouth, CMK Architects of Manchester, Archiphernalia of Exeter, Arq Architects of Kittery, and Winter Holben of Kittery.

Town Manager Kendra Amaral said the Library Building Committee will begin reviewing the proposals next week, and determine which firms to interview. Once a firm is recommended, Amaral said, she will begin to finalize a contract with the selected team.

“From there, I expect we will kick off design quickly after the holidays,” she said.

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According to the RFP, there are 4,791 members of the Rice Public Library who utilize services annually. The result of the renovation and expansion, it said, should support the delivery of library services for the next 30 years and meet program needs established by the library and the town.

“The Rice Library board of trustees has been engaged in facility planning for 15 years, seeking to find a project that the community would coalesce around,” the RFP stated. In 2017, the board and town of Kittery embarked on an intensive public input process that culminated in the non-binding referendum question. The conceptual cost estimate was $4 million.

The input process included an emphasis on the desire to preserve the library’s historic building, while innovating for future needs.

If all goes according to plan, the town hopes to see construction begin during the summer of 2020, with full occupancy and a grand opening by November 2021.