On Wednesday, March 24, the long-debated bond referendum for Bryant Library renovation will take place. All voting will be done at the Helen Glannon Room of the library, located at 2 Paper Mill Road.
Voting hours are from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Those who wish to vote must be a resident of the Roslyn School District for at least 30 days by Election Day.
The referendum will be on a $15 million bond, one to be used for significant library renovations. The proposed plan would include the addition of 23,000 sq. ft. of new space to the current building.
Among those proposed changes will be the relocation of the Valentine House from its current site directly across from the library to a spot located on the northwest side of the building.
The vote represents the culmination of a long process in which members of a library committee, one made up of local residents, did extensive research on what should be the library's course of action once it concluded that the current building simply is not large enough to serve the community's needs.
For a time, the committee considered a new location for the library. Since no new location could be found feasible, the committee decided that renovations to the present building were the most viable next step.
After holding public meetings on the matter, library officials made their next big decision, namely, the bond referendum.
More meetings were held on the bond vote. Library officials have continuously cited increased usage by the public as the major reason for a renovation project. Still, the referendum has generated large interest among the voting public.
Those who support the referendum tend to agree with library officials that the current building simply needs more space to fulfill its obligations to local residents. At a March 3 public meeting, Jill Studley, co-president of the Coordinating Council of Parents Association for the Roslyn School District, said that a new library would be good for local teenagers. "Young people are excited about it [a renovated library]," she claimed.
Opponents of the referendum have cited the usual concerns about the long-term cost of the project, especially in light of the recent property reassessment, plus the county's ongoing fiscal situation.
Others, such as Duncan MacIntosh, have claimed that additions to the library aren't necessary, since the building, he maintained, is "mostly empty most of the time." Also at the March 3 meeting, MacIntosh said that the world of electronic entertainment, including cable television and personal computers, has resulted in low library attendance.
Peter Rogatz, a Roslyn resident, answered MacIntosh's claims by stating that his own research found that 480 to 550 people patronize the library on any given day. Elizabeth McCloat, the library's director, added that a gate count for a typical Monday revealed a head count of 550 people using the building's facilities.
Concerning costs, residents have been reassured that the plan cannot legally exceed the $15 million that will be written in the bond resolution.
Possibly the most significant opposition to the referendum has come from the Roslyn Landmark Society.
In a recent letter to The Roslyn News, Harrison Hunt, the Landmark Society's president, said that the library's proposed renovation is both "inappropriate to its setting adjacent to Gerry Park" and "at odds with the philosophy of historic preservation which has given Roslyn its distinctive character."
Hunt further claimed that the planned relocation of the Valentine House would create an "oversized amalgam of three separate buildings," one that would have a "serious effect on the scenic vista across Gerry Park from the Main Street Historic District in the heart of Roslyn," all at a "great expense and with no real benefit."
Answering Hunt's charges was Mark Yohalem, a recently retired member of the library's board of trustees.
Also writing in The Roslyn News, Yohalem said renovation plans would not adversely affect the current landscape. Additions to the western portion of the library would, Yohalem claimed, would result in an increase in the size of the present roof, but one that would still be "well below" the roofline of the War Memorial Building and "thus invisible from East Broadway."
Yohalem also defended the proposed relocation of the Valentine House. Such a move, he said, would gain an additional 13 parking spaces for the library. The first floor of the house would be used for an expanded children's room.
Those who have not voted in a Roslyn School District election or a general election within the last four years, or who are new residents and have not registered to vote with the Board of Elections, must register to vote in the Special District Meeting for the Bryant Library.
For those who need to register, the Roslyn School District has adopted continuous personal registration. Residents may register in person with the District Clerk, Monday through Friday during school hours.