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Money Matters at the Library

The library board took steps at a specially called meeting to finalize a grant proposal, that if awarded, would help pay for the cost of renovating the space under construction at Station Branch in the Gardens of Great Neck shopping plaza.

Further, they also voted to apply for bond funding for the Main library’s renovation through the Town of North Hempstead’s Local Development Corporation.

Station Branch

Demolition has begun at the 2nd floor space that the library board has leased for an expanded Station Branch. According to Jane Marino, library executive director, the work is well ahead of schedule and she is pleased with the progress. The construction grant program is under the New York State Public Library system and in the past the library has been successful in securing funds through this grant mechanism. The application is seeking a $142,045 grant that would be matched with library funds for the renovation of Station. Nassau County has been awarded a total of $834,219 for this grant program. Ms. Marino says, “Any amount we are awarded would be greatly appreciated.” The board will know by Dec. 11 if we are to receive any funding from this source.

Bonding for Main

Last year legislation was passed that allows Local Development Corporations (LDC) under the auspices of towns or counties to issue AAA tax exempt bonds to not-for-profit groups. These LDCs do not actually loan the money directly, but rather, serve as conduits for bonding.

The Town of North Hempstead has an LDC listed on their website as the Business and Tourism Development Corporation with Ian Siegal as executive director and Louise Fishman as program director. Town council members serve as the governing board for the LDC.

Mr. Siegal and Ms. Fishman attended the library board meeting to discuss what they can offer. Also present was Noah Nadelson of Ministat Services, Port Jefferson, the bond counsel retained by the board to advise them on financial matters pertaining to the renovation.

While many municipalities can do their own bonding, under the law, the library cannot. Therefore it is necessary to go through another entity for bonding. The other option available to the library board is the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, known as DASNY, which provides financing and construction services to public and private universities and other not-for-profit institutions serving the public good.

Mr. Nadelson did a cost analysis comparing DASNY to the LDC based on a $22.5 million bond, a number which is not yet set in concrete, but is an estimate for renovation. According to his report, upfront fees to DASNY would amount to a total of $510,750. Upfront fees to the LDC would amount to $392,000. Annual fees  to DASNY would be $9,000 while annual fees to LDC would be $5,500. His report also states that annual fees are incorporated into the debt service on the bonds.

Mr. Siegal told the board that if the library chooses to use the town’s LDC, it would be their first big project under the new law. He went on to add that any fees earned would be re-invested in the town to promote business and tourism and that due to the fact that he and Ms. Fishman are local, the board could expect personalized and prompt service, “more user friendly.”

The law firm of Harris Beach is counsel to the LDC in matters associated with bonding with Mr. Siegal calling them “very experienced and foremost in the state in transactions of this kind.”

Board members asked Mr. Siegal if costs associated with the renovation which have already been paid could be covered by the bond. He was unsure and said he would get back to the director who will supply him with the dates when bills were paid. The fees already paid are to the following consultants: Dattner Architects, $191,455; Park East Construction, $20,056; VHB Engineering, $30,059; Harris, Bloom & Archer, $24,042; Kevin Seaman, Esq. $16,255.

Board members voted to approve a $500 fee to utilize the LDC for bonding purposes.

It is expected that the library proposal will be heard by the town’s board of zoning appeals this fall. The BZA has declared itself the lead agency in determining the scope of the environmental issues associated with the plans.

All of this hinges on whether the public approves of the proposed plans for a renovation and expansion. It is anticipated that the referendum will come before the public for a vote in the late winter or early spring of 2011.