Written by Daniel Offner Friday, 14 February 2014 00:00
The Island Trees school district is currently considering a proposal to construct 160 to 247 condominium apartments on the 11.3 acres of property on Farmedge Road—currently housing the Karopcyc and Gallow schools—which has supporters of the Island Trees
Public Library speaking out against plans to relocate the facility to its former location.
Should the district proceed with the plans, the Island Trees Public Library would need to be relocated from its current location at the Karopcyc school, to its former location at the Memorial Middle School.
On Feb. 1, the Library Board of Trustees met with over 50 people from the community regarding the school district’s proposal and what it would mean for the future of the library.
“The cost it would take to move this library, if we had to pay the full burden out of our reserves, would be astronomical,” said Board President John Mikulin. “We are going to look at all our alternative options before we make any decisions.”
According to Mikulin, the library currently has a lease on the property until June 30, 2017, at which point it would need to vacate the building. He added that if the library were to move to the middle school, it would cost $700,000 of the library’s total $1.2 million reserves. “We don’t believe we could afford the cost of the move,” he added.
Apart from the cost to relocate the library, people in the community said that moving back to the middle school would reduce the 7,400 square-foot facility even further.
“Our spacing is not adequate for the population that we currently serve,” said Levittown resident Elizabeth Motaly. “Going to the middle school would not serve the community properly in everything we currently do now, we would be going backwards not forward.”
Library Director Michele Vaccarelli said that since the library moved in 1997, the number of patrons, programs, employees, shelves and books in the library’s circulation have increased. “A lot of it has doubled,” Vaccarelli said “We offer so much more now.”
Based on the library’s annual reports, circulation alone has nearly doubled from the 57,240 books that were in circulation in 1996, to the 114,766 books circulated in 2013.
“People were not too happy to learn that we would have to move,” said Vaccarelli. “At this meeting the community spoke loud and clear that the library should not return to the middle school, instead residents felt the library should have a freestanding building.”
Laura Giunta, a Levittown resident who works as a librarian in Garden City, said that several of the communities in the surrounding area, including Bethpage, Seaford, Levittown, Hicksville and Wantagh, have libraries separate from their schools.
“Seaford sold 5 acres of property at $5.6 million, while we have 11 acres to sell. So, assuming the district gets $10 million or so, why couldn’t it use some of that money to build a real modern library building?” Giunta asked. “I would like a free standing library building.”
Apart from the plans to develop condo units on the 11-acre property, Island Trees Schools Superintendent Dr. Charles Murphy said the district plans to hire an architect to help provide space at the school that would be sufficient for the library.
“We have the land for the library,” Murphy said at the meeting. “If you are talking about a free standing building, or an attached structure all free standing that could be yours. We have the facility to work with you to create this.”
On Feb. 10, Murphy and the Island Trees School Board of Education will reconvene for a community forum on the proposed development project and the fate of the Island Trees Public Library.