The pride Port residents found with the reopening of the refurbished and enlarged library could be strained as they gaze at the abandoned Baker property which was acquired to provide additional parking and complement the sparkling new facility. The many parties interested in this project have energetically pursued the complex path to begin the construction phase.
In an update for Port News, Library Director Nancy Curtin offered an optimistic outlook for the project despite a number of daunting milestones in the future. The complex and weighty steps required are going forward with the participation of governmental agencies, lawyers, the village of Baxter Estates and the community to begin and promptly complete this project. Curtin and the library's board of trustees have enthusiastic community support for this much-needed project. A most painful thought for tax-weary Port residents is the anticipated cost of the project. Port taxpayers will welcome Curtin's assurance that the money required, estimated at $450-$500,000 is already available in the library's capital budget.
In 1985, the story of the library parking lot extension began with the acquisition of the old Baker Funeral Home which was endorsed by referendum of the voters of the Port Washington School District. The owner of the property, Mr. Baker, wished that no change take place with the property during his lifetime. His wish was honored. After Baker's death in 1989, the library's board of trustees purchased the Baker residence and, in doing so, wisely provided for future expansion. In 1995, Curtin and the board of trustees in conference with the village of Baxter Estates began discussions to develop the property and hired the engineering firm of Fay, Spofford and Thorndike. At that time, plans included developing the present library lot and constructing a second parking facility on the Baker property with no change to Library Drive.
After extensive consultations with the village and neighborhood residents, a bold plan was suggested to consolidate parking from both lots and build a new relocated Library Drive east of and parallel to its present location. The new facility would nearly double existing spaces from the present 48 to 95 and provide a single vehicle entrance and exit to Main St. The complex legal swap is pending which will transfer Library Drive to the library and part of the library to the new Library Drive. These plans were fine-tuned with the help of the Nassau County Department of Traffic. The plan had to be put on hold to accommodate the impending major library refurbishment, which required a substantial amount of operating room to facilitate construction.
Immediately after the renovations Curtin and the library's board of trustees took steps to restart the consolidated parking plan. At present, the design of the new lot and traffic pattern is under review by Nassau County. Subsequent major steps include the preparation of contract and specifications, competitive bidding and awarding of the contract.
The most desirable time to begin the anticipated three to four month construction is the spring or early summer to minimize the inconvenience to library users. When construction begins, parking spaces will be limited and the library staff has pledged to keep the Port community advised. When pressed for a starting date, Curtin realistically labels such an estimate at this time as unreliable. She confidently assured the Port community that the project would progress with deliberate speed because all concerned parties are in synch and enthusiastically support the project.
The new parking facility will include an extension of the present landscaping and lighting scheme. Plans are also on the drawing board for five express parking spots to allow users to go enter the library for five minutes to check in books and a new drive-up book drop accessible on the driver's side of vehicles. When completed, Port folks will once again swell with pride at this practical and necessary addition to our first class library.