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Feb 27, 2017 3:21 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Library Schedules Meeting To Discuss Upcoming $9.9 Million Bond Referendum

The Hampton Bays Library Board of Trustees is asking taxpayers to approve a nearly $10 million bond referendum to renovate the Ponquogue Avenue facility. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Feb 28, 2017 3:59 PM

The Hampton Bays Public Library will be holding an informational meeting regarding its proposed $9.9 million bond referendum on Tuesday, March 7—exactly one week before taxpayers will head to the polls to vote on the revised plan.

Set to begin at 7 p.m. at the Ponquogue Avenue facility, the meeting will detail the library board’s plans to hire an architect to draw up a completely new floor plan for the library that would eliminate wasted, unused space, according to Hampton Bays Library Director Susan LaVista.

Expected to cost $9.9 million, the revised plan also calls for completely replacing the roof, adding insulation throughout the two-story building, as well as installing an energy efficient heating and cooling system, along with a new fire suppression system.

The renovated building, if the work is ultimately approved by district taxpayers, would be brought into compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, officials said. The work would also require the closure of the library itself for several months, meaning the facility will be forced to operate from a temporary trailer during the renovations.

Voting on the referendum will run from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, March 14, in the library’s main program room.

Ms. LaVista explained this week that the library’s seven board members decided to put up another bond referendum—after a more ambitious $15.8 million bond referendum was rejected by taxpayers in June—because they still need to address immediate problems with the building, starting with the need for a new roof. That plan, however, called for the complete demolition of the current library and constructing its replacement from scratch.

“The thing that is really important to keep in mind is by doing this all at one time we’ll be able to address all the problems instead of just patching,” Ms. LaVista said.

As with the board’s first proposal, the updated plan calls for the purchase of an adjoining half-acre lot at 3 Argonne Avenue for $390,000 to provide additional parking spaces. The house that sits on the property would likely be preserved and used for additional library space or by Friends of the Library, a nonprofit group that raises funds for the library through book sales and other avenues, according to Ms. LaVista.

“One of the big things that has always been on the table is more and safer parking, and more space, which we’ll get by acquiring the adjacent house,” she added.

The project would be paid for with a $9.9 million bond that could run for as long as 30 years and with an annual debt service of $646,000, according to Ms. LaVista, who stressed that those terms have not yet been finalized.

On Tuesday morning, Ms. LaVista said the library’s tax rate would climb about 18 cents, to approximately 77 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, if the bond is approved on March 14, an estimated 30-percent increase. Therefore, a person with a house assessed at $350,000 and now paying about $201 in library taxes can expect to pay an extra $64 a year for the length of the bond to finance the work.

David Zimmerman, president of the library board, did not return calls or emails this week.

The lack of discussion about the upcoming bond vote has prompted some community members to question the reasoning of library officials, with a few going as far as to suggest that they are purposely downplaying the upcoming vote in the hopes of getting it approved.

Janet Allen of Hampton Bays, who said she voted against last year’s $15.8 million referendum, said library officials have not spent much time selling their proposal to the public, noting that next week’s informational hearing will be the first and only one prior to the March 14 vote. For comparison’s sake, officials held more than two dozen informational meetings, and even met one on one with several local organizations, prior to the first bond vote.

“I went to the meetings last year—I followed it very closely,” Ms. Allen said. “A lot of people don’t have the time, [so] they read the newspaper, or they hear from word of mouth. They think [the bond] vote was over and done with last year. Eight months ago, it was voted down, and now it’s back on the table with a [vote] scheduled, and they are not holding any public meetings.”

Library officials shared some information with taxpayers in their last two newsletters. In the January/February version, Ms. LaVista explains that the work is needed to address basic building issues and to offer additional parking. The newsletter did not include specific plans or estimated costs.

In the March/April newsletter that was recently circulated, Ms. LaVista reveals that the work is expected to cost $9.9 million and that a “special-mailing” with additional details would follow. That mailer, which Ms. LaVista said was postmarked last week, offers additional details as well as a rough sketch of what the updated library would look like.

It also offers an explanation from the library board about its decision to put up its second bond referendum in nine months: “Last June the community voted against the proposal to build a new library. The library has only two options: To completely renovate the entire building and acquire the adjacent property and house as a long-term solution. Or to continue making repairs on a piecemeal approach over an extended period, which would not only cost significantly more, it would cause continual disruption in library services until all the work has been completed.

“After reviewing the options from both a fiscal and operational viewpoint,” the letter continues, “the Board felt that a complete renovation was the responsible choice.”

When she contacted the library director earlier this year, Ms. Allen said she was surprised to learn that the board had no plans to hold any informational meetings prior to the vote. The lack of communication, according to Ms. Allen, suggests to her that the board thinks it has a better shot at securing approval when many hamlet residents are wintering in warmer climates. Last time around, she said, board members were much more open in sharing information and listening to input from the public.

“But now they are keeping it quiet—it’s a ‘hush-and-rush,’” Ms. Allen said. “They want it to pass, but that’s a long-term debt for those of us who are going to be paying for the next 30 years.”

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This so disgraceful. How can $1 million of repairs and renovations reported at the original meeting now snowball into $9.9 million? i have zero confidence in this Board to be good stewarts of our tax monies. I don't need to go to a meeting to hear their "explanation". VOTE NO
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Feb 28, 17 9:44 AM
1 member liked this comment
I am down in Florida, can you submit an absentee ballot?
By George12 (1), Hampton Bays on Feb 28, 17 3:39 PM
It may be too late to request one, but you can try.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Feb 28, 17 4:20 PM
There is a link to the absentee ballot on the library page
By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Mar 3, 17 11:20 PM





By George5 (1), Hampton Bays on Feb 28, 17 9:56 PM
The literature sent out by the Library is complete propaganda. The "cost per day" is completely disingenuous. Do they think the taxpayers are idiots? There was never a $9.9 million renovation as part of their original analysis. They are wasting so much money on referendums and consultants, they could have fixed the roof 5 x. I am so done with the Library Board. VOTE NO.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Feb 28, 17 10:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
Thanks for posting the link to the petition. At least those who want to have a say can do so there.
By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Mar 4, 17 12:10 PM
The library needs some repairs which should be accomplished within the existing budget. We do not need to build a grand building so Ms LaVista gets a new office with a window and more pork for the people at Sandpebble. $9.9 Million is double the amount of Money the Rechlers have budgeted to repair the CPI. When will our appointed boards learn to spend within the means of the taxpayers who live in Hampton Bays. Our property taxes are already higher than all the east end school districts except Eastport ...more
By Ernie (88), Hampton Bays on Mar 1, 17 8:15 AM
1 member liked this comment

Then we have to figure out a way to remove the entire slate of "trustees"
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Mar 2, 17 12:04 AM
$390,000 for the friends of the library to have a office??? How much do they raise a year? How many parking spots? Cost of paving parking spots, price goes WAY up...
By knitter (1890), Southampton on Mar 3, 17 11:54 AM
$390,000 for the friends of the library to have a office??? How much do they raise a year? How many parking spots? Cost of paving parking spots, price goes WAY up...
By knitter (1890), Southampton on Mar 3, 17 11:56 AM
You bet your butt they're purposely keeping it quiet. No guessing required. This library administration needs a serious ethics review. Before the last vote they had library staff cold-calling residents to promote the vote! Conflict of interest, anyone??? They also need some more creative thinkers in their midst. The voters said NO once; come up with a new plan. Knocking a few million off the cost isn't going to work.
By Liber728 (9), Hampton Bays on Mar 3, 17 12:19 PM
1 member liked this comment
Last summer had a brief conversation with ms lavista regarding the failed vote, and if they were going to try again. she said they were going to try again, but wouldn't put it on the ballot on election day in nov-too many people will be voting that day. hmm guess its better to try to sneak it through in march when no one paying attention. looks like they are now trying for the 2nd most expensive option (out of five) no thanks
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Mar 3, 17 6:02 PM
Ms. LaVista actually out-right said that? What a winner
By bb (909), Hampton Bays on Mar 3, 17 11:13 PM
Captain Sag, there were never 5 options - only 4. this 9.9 million was never discussed. They pulled this one out of .....the air. I would hate to think the dedicated members of the Board are so inept pr have "Southampton Village envy" to put this through. I suspect that Ms. Lavista sees the writing on the wall - that her job is going the way of 8 tracks and this is her job security. Same with Sandpebble if they are involved again.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Mar 4, 17 4:03 PM
Though 71% of LI association libraries have elected boards, some for decades, simply by having the sitting trustees change the library’s bylaws, both Hampton Bays and Westhampton libraries—though taxpayer-funded—still retain APPOINTED trustees. Speaking of WH, it’s a private, closed club governing the library, operating a multi-million dollar annual budget, with over $4 million cash sitting in the bank, most of it accumulated tax dollars.

No library trustee elections, ...more
By st (128), westhampton beach on Mar 5, 17 11:24 AM
Not only is $9.9 outrageous but it ethically immoral for the Board to hold a vote when many seniors are out of town, - very SNEAKY ! Absentee ballots are available but many seniors did not even know of the referendum as it was not widely publicized. Shame on the board for trying to ram this through without public awareness. Right now we pay more for the library than for the police, (.5928 for the library vs .5522 for the police )
Vote NO

By bayside (2), hampton Bays on Mar 10, 17 12:15 PM
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