According to West Hempstead Library Director Regina Mascia, the West Hempstead Library Board of Trustees is looking into the possibility of putting a referendum on the table again for a new public library.
In June 2001, a referendum to construct a new library on the Western Beef property, located on the corner of Woodfield Road and Hempstead Avenue, was defeated by a 1,455 to 916 margin.
In discussion leading up the vote, some residents expressed concern over the proposed location and the safety of the library patrons visiting a facility that is in a busy area. Proponents of the library argue that the current library is simply not big enough to accommodate the advances in technology as it pertains to library services.
If the board does decide to put the project out for referendum again, the trustees will work over the next several months to refine the project. The redesigned plan will represent a scaled-back building design, which has been significantly reduced in both size and cost. Although the referendum date has not yet been scheduled, preliminary discussions have focused on bringing the vote to the public in the spring. The board should make up its mind over the next few weeks.
In the wake of last June's defeat of a new library building plan, the Board of Trustees again pursued numerous options for a new location, all to no avail. "West Hempstead is simply built-out," said Board of Trustees President Ralph Reissman. "After the defeat of the last referendum we repeated our search for any potential solution. Few options emerged, and nothing was viable."
Those potential solutions included an attempt to piece together a town-owned parking lot and a series of commercial properties (rejected by the Town of Hempstead), along with consideration of condemning residential property (rejected by the board of trustees as unconscionable).
Some in the community have asked about the Hall's Pond property - one of the few remaining green spaces left in West Hempstead, an option that was previously researched in detail by the board. This property cannot, under state law, be used for a new library without an equivalent piece of parkland to replace it. By deed restriction, should the parcel be used for purposes other than parkland, the land will revert back to its original use as New York City watershed. Furthermore, grave concerns about the loss of this open green space, and the potential negative environmental impact, have been expressed to the board of trustees by numerous individuals and groups.