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Editorial: The GN Library Referendum: Finally, the Public Can Have a Say

The library has been my “beat” for the last 12 years. It would be fair to say that I have attended more library board meetings than anyone currently on the board with the exception of Marietta Di Camillo. In those years, board members have come and gone and each one exiting has been a happy camper. Recently, a former board member told me that the four years he served were “the worst of my life.”

There is something about the dynamics of a seven-person board that is defeating for the most energetic, motivated and dedicated individual. It is a hard slug. It is a perfect size for factions to form and play out.

A number of directors were mauled by the process too.

Watching the library board in action has been like working in a hotdog factory. It kind of takes your taste for frankfurters away. Witnessing it has been high drama at times and tediously boring at others.

Whatever the final outcome of the vote will be...there will be many, many more important decisions to  be made. If the plan is defeated, the board members may feel the need to lick their wounds for a little while, but they should be up and running to make the most of renovating the library within its current footprint.

If the plan is approved, the board must decide about exactly how much space to give to each function, decide about the design of the community room, sloped floor or not...just to name a few. My hope would be that the public will be fully engaged as the board moves ahead, no matter what the outcome.

I still think that one last big meeting with the architect and board to answer questions in public would have been beneficial and would have given a sense of closure to the process.

The question that has arisen about the Library Board President’s ability to lead the board and focus on a renovation or expansion is one that only she and her fellow board members can answer. I do not think anyone should vote against the bond because of her position; neither do I think that the bond should be supported out of sympathy for her. Passage or rejection of the bond is a stand-alone issue.

We have been asked by the bond supporters to take an editorial position on the matter.

Considering the fact that we have pleaded for the public to get more involved in these last months leading up to the referendum and the tepid response, we question how much influence we wield.

We will say this, we think that both sides believe they have the best interests of the community at heart. The pro people believe that the additional 8000 square feet will bring Main up to the high standards historically set by this community. The con people believe that the existing footprint, if totally redesigned inside, makes the most sense financially and will restore Main to everyone much quicker.

We hope the weather will cooperate and that there will be a high turn out for the vote and that the vote itself is decisive.

There is still much hard work ahead.

- Carol Frank