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New Year’s Resolution, A Library Plan

On January 7, the building committee of the Great Neck Library Board will meet to make a final determination and recommendation of an option for renovation and expansion to the full board. They may now choose among four modified plans as the architects have reduced the total square footage from plan C by 1200 square feet creating plan D for consideration.

Overall cost estimates for all proposed plans have come down by 13.5 percent due to the falling construction costs that have occurred as a result of a depressed economy.

A bond for 20 years for $23 million would cost a home assessed at $1 million, an additional $86 a year in taxes.

The library board is scheduled to vote in favor of a plan at a special meeting on January 13 after months of debate and opportunities for public input. Once that decision has been made, the process for solidifying approvals from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Town of North Hempstead’s Zoning and Appeals Board will begin. Technically, the time needed for the paperwork for bringing the issue to the public for a referendum is 90 days. However, it is very likely that the requirements for approvals and reviews will take longer.

Building committee chairman Andrew Greene said, “The silver lining to the timing of this coinciding with the recession is that we are in a depressed environment for construction costs and interest rates are at an all-time low.” While the library board was responding to an angry outcry by some residents of the Parkville Branch area at a recent meeting by asking the architects to reduce the plans further, the new plan D would save the average family a total of $8 a year.

Barbara Zeller reminded the board that many years ago, when Main was built, a former board cut costs by installing the mezzanine. Since that time, many patrons and staff members have decried the mezzanine because its existence has limited the flexibility of space utilization. She urged that the board maximize the site space and resist making cuts that may be regretted later on.

Stanley Romaine also made a plea that the board “not be pennywise and pound foolish.”

Dan Nachmanoff stated that for the vast majority of residents, the library has become a community center and that the role and importance of the Main library should not be downgraded.

Branch Matters

The other matter for consideration on January 13 is the potential relocation of Station Branch to a new space in the same shopping center. The new space above Waldbaums, formerly fitted as a restaurant that has changed hands several times in the last few years, has a total of 6500 square feet. A number of questions and concerns were raised at the Dec. 22 meeting. How much money would it take to renovate the space? How safe are the stairs leading up to the second floor? How adequate is the existing elevator? How safe would egress be in an emergency situation? Could the cost of renovation legally be rolled into a bond issue for the Main’s renovation/expansion? Would there be an increase in staffing needs for a larger space and how would that affect the regular operating budget? The rent, currently at $100,000 a year, would double.

If current discussions with the landlord for the new space are unfruitful, there may be a possibility of expanding the current space by 750 square feet instead.

Meanwhile, the library’s director and business manager have a scheduled meeting with the school district’s superintendent and business manager to discuss the possibility of acquiring more space at Parkville School for branch needs.

Both upcoming meetings will be held at the Main library. The building committee meeting on Thursday, Jan. 7 is slated for 7 p.m. and the special board meeting on Wed., Jan. 13 is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The public is invited to attend both meetings.