Sand Hill School Community Center

The Sand Hill Community Center

In an unexpected turn of events, the Sandwich Public Library will temporarily relocate to the Sand Hill Community Center while the Main Street building undergoes a $3.5 million renovation this winter.

The news was delivered at a library board of trustees meeting on Tuesday night, September 22.

“I do have a major announcement: We are going to move into the Sand Hill School,” Library Director Joanne Lamothe told the trustees during the Zoom meeting. “Frankly, I’m very excited.”

The library director and the board had been eyeing a former liquor store at Canterbury Plaza in South Sandwich as temporary quarters, but after discussing the matter with the town manager and assistant town manager the former Sand Hill School seemed like a great offer, Ms. Lamothe said.

“It’s a turnkey building that just went through a major renovation; it already has network infrastructure and a security system; and it’s handicapped accessible,” Ms. Lamothe said.

If the library had moved to the former liquor store, the building would have required major renovations to accommodate the network systems and to become accessible to people with disabilities, Ms. Lamothe said.

She estimated that the library would save $128,000 to $150,000 in renovation costs by moving to Sand Hill instead.

“Did I mention it’s rent-free?” Ms. Lamothe added.

As envisioned so far, the Sand Hill building would have small browsing sections for children and adults, areas where people could drop off and pick up books and DVDs, a circulation desk, and tables where staffers can sit and work.

There will be no public gathering places or in-person programs.

The library director said she is looking into having some staff work remotely because space in the building will be limited, but added that there are many projects to keep everyone busy. Among them are converting archival information—such as cemetery markings—now on paper to an electronic format.

“These are the first steps in creating a searchable database that will end up on the archive website,” Ms. Lamothe said.

She is hoping, she added, to move to Sand Hill in November and move back to the renovated library next spring or summer.

Chairman Mark Wiklund praised the move and credited Ms. Lamothe, Town Manager George H. (Bud) Dunham and Assistant Town Manager Heather B. Harper with working out the novel solution.

“It was an idea that had many parents,” Mr. Wiklund said. “Arriving at a solution was very much a cooperative—and collaborative—effort.”

Meanwhile, back on Main Street, the architectural team has completed 75 percent of the construction drawings, which include specifications for plumbing, electrical and HVAC systems, accessibility and other structural necessities.

Bids have opened for contractors and subcontractors, Ms. Lamothe said.

Once the final drawings are completed and a final estimate is issued by the architect, the board of trustees will meet with the board of selectmen to review the project, Ms. Lamothe has said.

Meanwhile, the library’s partial reopening and its many remote offerings continue to go well, Ms. Lamothe told the board on Tuesday night.

The library, which is at 142 Main Street and has not been redesigned since the 1980s, will be renovated into a technology-friendly building with inviting, uncluttered rooms filled with light and open space.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the $3.5 million project at a Special Town Meeting last fall.

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