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Groundbreaking Nears For East Hampton Library Expansion

Publication: The East Hampton Press
By Virginia Garrison   Feb 21, 2012 4:04 PM
Feb 21, 2012 4:31 PM

The East Hampton Library hopes to break ground for its children’s room expansion before the end of March, Tom Twomey, the library board chairman, said Monday. The first shovel of dirt should smell sweet to those who started the project on paper nearly nine years ago.

But first the library has to wait for the East Hampton Village Design Review Board to sign off on the final plans.

An earlier, larger version of the addition was approved by the DRB in 2004, scaled back and then rejected by the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals in 2010, and sent back for approval in 2011 after a State Supreme Court decision overturned the ZBA’s decision. The ZBA was permitted to impose “reasonable conditions” when it issued a special permit and two variances for the project in June 2011, and the proposal then moved back to the purview of the Design Review Board.

Now Ben Krupinski, a local building contractor who’s been donating manpower to the library for years, has amplified that to volunteer his time as construction manager. Ray Harden, who works for him, is coordinating bids from subcontractors, and most have already been submitted. Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, designed the addition, just as he did the most recently completed one on the library’s north side.

“We have raised $3.2 million out of the $4 or 4.5 million” needed for the new children’s wing, Mr. Twomey said, and “we haven’t begun the official fund-raising campaign yet.” Private donations will pay for the expansion.

Construction is expected to take 12 to 15 months, Mr. Twomey said, adding that “it’s not very large—half the size of a tennis court” in terms of its footprint at the rear of the building. The addition will measure about 3,400 square feet per floor, 
with one floor at the basement level.

The Suffolk County Health Department signed off on the plan last week, and the East Hampton Village building inspector is reviewing the application. A building permit can be issued only after approval from the Design Review Board, which on February 15 held a public hearing that was well attended but during which no one spoke from the audience.

Perhaps 25 people were there on behalf of the library, and many seemed disappointed as they left without an approval in hand. Dennis Fabiszak, the library director, Mr. Krupinski and Jeffrey Butler, an engineer, told Carolyn Preische, who was chairing the meeting, that details that had only recently been finalized would be indicated on the final site plan, in particular those concerning light fixtures in the parking lot.

Ms. Preische at first suggested leaving the hearing open pending a chance to see any revisions in the final plan. “We cannot take action on a pig in a poke,” she said.

“Both of these are the exact lights that are in the parking lot and on the building now,” Mr. Fabiszak said at one point.

“We need something for the record,” said Ms. Preische.

“Obviously we need that plan in order to refer to it in the determination,” the village attorney, Linda Riley, told Mr. Fabiszak. “Either way, it’s going to end up on another meeting. The board has to look at the plan.”

Mr. Krupinski drew applause when he asked Ms. Preische not to “keep it open for a light bulb.”

Ultimately, the public hearing was adjourned for written submissions only until the DRB’s next meeting on March 7.

“I’m pleased the hearing was closed and there was no opposition,” Mr. Twomey said on Monday.

The plan is to launch a fund-raising campaign in April, he said, perhaps selling tiles or bricks like the ones that raised money for the last addition. Donors could put their names on the bricks, and the bricks went into courtyard outside the library.

No plans have yet been set for the groundbreaking, Mr. Twomey said.

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