As the president of the Roslyn Heights Civic Association (RHCA), I attended the public meeting at the Bryant Library regarding the planned renovation and expansion. I then held a community meeting, with representation from the Bryant Library in attendance.
I learned how the residents of Roslyn Heights felt about the $15 million bond issue and the proposed tax increase of $150 to $200 per year, for 20 years. The objection of a tax increase speaks for itself, the reassessment already caused a tax increase ranging from 20 percent to 100 percent per household.
The one victory our community has had is the rolling back of our sewer tax, and now it will be replaced by the increased library tax.
All the concerns of the community are valid, therefore, the method of obtaining funds for the Bryant Library has to be handled with the utmost care.
I feel our library needs renovation. I want it to be 100 percent compliant with the American Disabilities Act (ADA). Our public library must afford every resident, disabled or not, a full service institution.
The library staff has stated that regardless of the outcome of the building referendum, the building will have to undergo construction to become ADA compliant.
The library is now running at maximum capacity. I believe the librarians when they say a book has to be thrown out for every new book that arrives.
The information society that we live in has added additional burden to our library. Technology and global commerce has allowed publications to be turned out faster and in greater numbers than they were 30 years ago. The computers, CDs and related video equipment were not even invented when this building was designed. Just looking at how our society has changed, it is no wonder our library needs to expand. When the ADA compliance is completed, the building will lose approximately 15 percent to 20 percent usable space. It would be responsible for the library board to consider expansion.
The process for planning such expansion, and acquiring the funds, is as critical as the design itself.
On March 24, we are going to vote on the $15 million Bryant Library building referendum. If the referendum passes, we would have voted for the right of the library board to borrow up to $15 million. If it passes we have appropriated the monies to construct a building that has yet to be approved by the Roslyn Board of Zoning and Appeals (BZA), the mayor's office and the Roslyn Town Board. Additional recommendations from the Roslyn Historical Society would be considered. And, the library board would still have to obtain an Environmental and Traffic Impact Study.
I was informed that there would be a $500,000 to $800,000 expense to have the final building plans drawn up in order to present them to the appropriate Roslyn village agencies. This expense would be incurred only after a favorable vote. During the hearings that the Roslyn Village Board and the BZA would hold, the public would be able to express their opinions to influence the final building design. The amount of time it would take to obtain plans, with appropriate approvals, would be no less then 18 months.
I would like to postpone the Bryant Library building referendum vote until such time that the plans, the public hearings, the environmental impact studies, architectural drawings and final model are presented. The town board, BZA and Historical Society can then decide what is best for the community, the neighbors and Gerry Park without having the $15 million burning a hole in our pocket. At that time the actual bond amount required would be known, and a vote could be had from a better informed community.
The Roslyn Heights Civic Association has done a pole of their members. We asked if they were in favor or against the $15,000,000 bond. Seventy-five percent of our members were against the bond. They stated that their taxes would increase and the artist's rendering seems too large. As someone had mentioned, the cart's before the horse.
Don't forget to vote on March 24 at the Bryant Library 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
President, Roslyn Heights Civic Association