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Great Neck Library Updates: Renovations Addressed

Station Branch Renovation

The library board is poised to engage the firm of 631 Construction to renovate Station Branch and will pass a resolution when the contract between the two parties is finalized. In the meantime, they voted to authorize the firm to begin preliminary work on the sprinkler and fire alarm systems for a fee not to exceed $25,000. The construction firm was the low bidder for the job of renovating Station Branch and came in at $284,150 well below the highest bid of $384,708 from another construction company.

Evidently, there was a misunderstanding regarding the level of support of the project from the Village of Great Neck Plaza. The village is waiving the fee for the conditional use permit, but is not waiving the fee for the building permit itself, which is a percentage of the cost of the project. Library director, Jane Marino listened to the tapes of meeting when the topic was discussed and said that Plaza Mayor Jean Celender never promised that the Plaza would waive all building department fees associated with the construction project.

Main Renovation

An application was submitted to the Town of North Hempstead; however, the town informed the library board that two things were missing. First, a letter of non-jurisdiction is required from the Department of Environmental Conservation. This is considered a formality as the DEC had ruled that the last renovation plan, which was physically larger and closer to Udall’s Pond, would not violate any wetlands regulations. The other missing document is an assurance from the DEC that the plan is in compliance with the storm run-off regulations. The proposed plan would have sufficient dry wells to absorb 90 percent of the water in rainstorms.

Board president Andrew Greene said that the building committee is hoping to obtain approvals from the Town of North Hempstead’s Board of Zoning Appeals sometime in the fall. If that occurs, the board is considering holding a referendum in December. The only drawback to that timetable is that a number of library supporters who are snowbirds would not be in town to vote.

Preliminary Recommendations From the Finance Committee:

Due to concerns about keeping a tight rein on any construction project costs, the Finance Committee, chaired by Varda Solomon with members Marietta DiCamillo and Josie Pizer presented draft recommendations for consideration. They were not offered for adoption at this time. Their recommendations so far are:

Contracts should have protective fiscal language so that the Great Neck Library does not suffer any unforeseen consequences.

The business manager should research and make recommendations to the Finance Committee for all conditions of future contracts.

Monthly invoices from contracted vendors should be scrutinized by the business manager and the director.

As financial specialist, the business manager should work with the director, as project coordinator. The business manager is responsible for the bill’s reasonableness, accuracy and appropriateness of activities and charges.

Other Matters

The majority of library board members present voted to grant department heads a 2 percent raise. Two members, Anna Kaplan and Martin Sokol, were absent. Josie Pizer and Varda Solomon abstained from the vote.

Ms. Marino announced that $945 has been donated to the Great Neck History fund, which was established in memory of Risha Rosner , who for many years worked to enrich the depth of the collection and to protect it while making it accessible to the public.

A Note from the Past

In 1900, the library board resolved “not to restrict the circulation of certain books from the Library.” This resolution followed months of debate by the board about whether or not to permit certain books to join the stacks. Ms. Sarah Wortman, the librarian at the time wrote, “While I believe most thoroughly in a nice discrimination in the choice of books, I must beg the directors to be more careful about withdrawing books from the Library. I cannot help feeling that there is a danger of becoming narrow in our policy and of limiting the aspirations of the library. What is meat for one is another’s poison, and strong meat cannot be given to babes. In all libraries there are some books that are unsuitable for some readers, and these books are restricted and kept out of sight.“