Thursday, October 19, 2006

library needs to follow up offer re: temporary space

A few weeks ago, after Frank's Nurserywas rejected as a temporary library location, the Library Board suggested that the Town Board move the expansion project forward by placing the temporary library at satellite locations. Among the locations: 2 small rooms at the Town Hall. Another location: a small room at the Multipurpose Center, Veteran Park. I did not want to be blamed for slowing down the library expansion efforts and did what the library board representatives requested.
I feel that the proposed satellite locations for the library is inadequate. In effect, we will have a very inadequate library while construction takes place.I have requested the library and town board consider renting a storefront somewhere in unincorporated Greenburgh for the library. Vic Weinstein, who has experience in real estate, offered to help with the lease. But, the Library Board prohibited the library director from meeting with him. They indicated that the Library Board should be involved in the search and negotiations.
I have sent e mails and letters to the Library Board asking for follow up to this matter -- I feel that a storefront library makes good sense for the library during construction: More locations...more service...less stored items during construction...better use of library staff. Currently, more than 70% of the books, equipment will be placed in storage.
I hope that the Library Board will give this their attention. I can't move forward without their help. The Town Board needs to know if we should include funds for rent in our 2007 budget--which will be released by the end of October.


Anonymous said...

What about using the Barnes and Noble space as a temporary location? Actually, that would be a great location for the permanent library!

Anonymous said...

I agree that b & n would be great space, but my guess is that central ave is too expensive -- this is infuriatoring that there are these vacant spaces on central for years.

hal samis said...

Obviously I am seeking the alternative to the Harry Reynolds title of being the most published letter writer in the Scarsdale Inquirer.

It has been brought to the Library's attention (read Library Board) that there is a vacant store in downtown Hartsdale right by the train station. This would be an ideal temporary location as the cybermobile (when it is working... but that's another story) makes three trips to Hartsdale Center each week and the storefront would free it up to serve other areas during the relocation.

Rent in "downtown" Hartsdale does not begin to approach Central Avenue levels. Neither is there similar interest from tenants.

It needn't be open co-terminus with the Library's regular hours of operation, whatever they may be during relocation. The cybermobile (when working...) has two librarian types and a driver on board so I don't see the storefront staffing as being the issue.

Since the Supervisor has offered to include rent in his budget for such locations (over a month ago to be precise, not including the earlier acknowledgement that using the bonding proceeds for rent would be illegal, be it Frank's or elsewhere) and this gesture has been rebuffed. Why? Ask your Library Board of Trustees (read Howard Jacobs). I know that the Library staff is in favor of this appraoch. Perhaps by taking the Supervisor up on his offer, it would remove him from heading their whipping boy list and with the project getting deeper in trouble each day, they continue to need someone, not on the Library Board, to blame.

GoodGovtGuy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GoodGovtGuy said...

1 - I work with Vic on the CAC and he is a fair minded individual with many good ideas and valuable insights. He is not a "Feiner guy". The library board should take advantage of his offer of assistance in this matter.

2 - In recent weeks I have suggested that we look into buying or leasing a new cybermobile to supplement the existing one during the construction. I have not received any response on it. I can think of many pluses and minuses but would like to know what others think.

3 - How does one define "too expensive"? If the B&N site costs more than other areas but simultaneously provides other substantial benefits, the added cost might actually be offset by the extra value to the community.

4 - If, as discussed elsewhere in this blog, Central Ave landlords are willing to keep buildings vacant for a year or two to wait for the right long-term deal to come along, wouldn't they be interested in an immediate, time certain short-term lease while they pursuing that later pot of gold contract? The library is the perfect short-term deal for them. It buys good will with the local govt officials, it gets local residents into a pattern of going to that location, it provides them with a fairly precise time frame during which to woe a next tenant; what's the downside for them or for us??? Central Ave is the ideal location for the library (mass transit, parking, near other destinations, walking distance for many apt dwellers in town). Let's pursue it.

5 - Comments made by anonymous posters are not worth spending much thought on. If you have something worthwhile to say then stand behind those words by revealing your identity. Even a clue as to where you live, what groups you're involved with, etc, would lend some credibility to your otherwise easily disregarded utterances. I for one don't fear debate nor do I fear making a wrong statement. When shown to be wrong I will gladly admit it and be grateful for the new knowledge gained as a result.

6 - We're all in this together, none of us is always right and we learn as we go. Thank you Paul for giving us this forum for learning together.

Phil Chonigman

Anonymous said...

Can anyone tell me how much state aid is involved in the library project? Has the Town or the Library even applied for state aid for the project?

Paul Feiner said...

We received a $100,000 grant from the federal government. We have applied, over the years, to the state for financial assistance. We still welcome state help.

Anonymous said...

Why hasn't the library board taken Feiner up on his offer to help him find a store front for the satellite library? I am not a happy camper. I want a functional library to serve Greenburgh for the next two years.

Anonymous said...

On the state aid. You mean to tell us that your spending 25 million on a new library and no one in the library administration or the huge town administration is aware that the state library has a 14 million dollar grant program for construction of libraries? Your kidding right?

Anonymous said...

Open letter to Greenburgh Library Board

Do not take any state money contingent upon library remaining in WLS. That will have to be rethought when new library finished. And I predcit other libraries will be revisiting their decisions too. Allicance will be formed by the major libraries (like our new one, Scardsale and White Plains) as WLS is not doing its job in encouraging libraries.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Choningman,

My reaction at this point, is, if the WLS isnt willing to enforce its own rules, we should just put everything in storage and give people a list of the closest WLS libraries and directions.

And Feiner "offering to put moeny for temporary space in budget" -- that is our money, not his.

Of course the staff wants more temporary space. More temporary space = more jobs. Library has to balance needs of everyone, not just employees.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous -- do not take any state library aid funds requiring us to stay in WLS (and subsidize villages)

Why do I suspect Feiner supporters post these "hints" and want us stuck in WLS, after our new library, and force us to give it away, without compensation, to Elmsford (ie one of the Villages, always favored by Feiner).

Anonymous said...

and my guess is that GPL share of the state aid of 14million would be -- bubkus

Anonymous said...

Let's make sure that the library is able to function while construction takes place. Our concern should be providing everyone who wants a book with a book to enjoy. Why can't book enthusiasts work with each other? Stop fighting!

Greenburgh Supporter of Schools and Library said...

With all due respect, if WLS will not protect us, the route to go is to use their services to get us throught the renovation period.

I love books too. But enough is enough. If WLS does not indicate they will require other members to live by Code of Service, we have no choice but to provide the least service allowable and live off of WLS.

Anonymous said...

The GPL will not be living up to the code of service with their sateliite plan now will they.

Should we throw them out of the WLS or help them through their 80% in reduced services?

If you look at this entire situtation with reason, the Elmsford/Ardsley deal actually helps the GPL as they get though their reduced services period.

Anonymous said...

The WLS needs to articulate what the rules and standards are so every library in Westchester will know what they can and can't do. They should also tell all libraries in the county what the penalties are if the rules are broken.

Anonymous said...

so why does the contract go for 4 years -- the construction will not go for 4 years

this was a $$$ grab -- and as always Feienr encouraged the sitation becasue the villages (which have more votes) are always his priorities. Unincorporated greeenburgh is just a $$$ raiser for him

The wls did have rules

and GPL would have had satellites to meet New York standards on libraries (if you people cared about libraries you would know that NYS sets standards) -- but now that Ardsely has stolen money this may not make sense.

get the facts right... said...

Paul Feiner did not encourage the contract with Ardsley and Elmsford. Paul Feiner did not vote for the original Elmsford/Greenburgh contract. The Library Board is an independent body that does not report to Feiner. Anonymous seems to want to blame everything in the town on Feiner. Why don't you read the law? If you did you'll learn that no action in the town can be taken without the votes of 3 members of the Town Council. You will also learn that the library board has the ability to take actions without the approval of the Town Board. Please stop the name calling.

Anonymous said...

The greencoats are coming the greencoats are coming...villagers flee your homes and businesses the greencoats are coming.

Sounds like the revolt is well underway.

Why don't you greencoats follow general bernstein into court and dislove the unicorp town and form your own city. You know why you don' much work involved and no guts.

hal samis said... there anybody out there who knows where they are?
the characters on the tv show "Lost" seem to have a better awareness of where they are than those that are posting comments on this blog TOPIC.

The topic is "Library needs to follow up offer re temporary space".

There are other topics on this blog site about the Library and the Elmsford contract, about quarrels with the Supervisor, etc.
Doesn't anyone have any interest in seeing more locations for the GPL during the construction period?
If so, the question remains unanswered why the Library Board doesn't want to take the Supervisor up on his offer to secure additional space for satelite locations.

And, granted it is tough to resist making this comment/response but the construction may very well last four years. It hasn't yet started although having the May 2005 Referendum was supposed to provide a Spring 2006 start. And the bids were supposed to be in at the beginning of October and construction was then to start in November. Nor is the location of the geothermal wells yet resolved and if this is resolved, do they find water? Meanwhile for Library Board believers there is another blog topic on this site; one about the Tappan Zee bridge -- hurry there because this topic may prove unnecessary because the Bridge is for sale...

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis,

The relationship between the temporary space and the Ardsley arrangement seems clear to me -- with the decrease from our operating budget, it may be best to use WLS facilities/priviledges more. Just because you don't agree -- please stop trying to chase others off board. You can agree or disagree, but depending on WLS position, Greenburgh will have to deal with this. It may not be the way I want or the way you want, but so be it.

hal samis said...

Dear Anonymous (hint: you who wrote "the decrease from our operating budget")

Since when has your operating budget been dependent on income?
You submit a wish list of contemplated expenditures and the Town Board adds the Library's list to the lists of the other departments and comes up with a grand total. Broadly speaking, the amount to pay for this grand total is then met by using town fund balances, non-property tax revenues to the town and then the balance remaining is met by raising or lowering property taxes to the level necessary. Somehow you seem to give the impression that without the funding from Elmsford, the Library must accordingly spend less next year. This is the kind of deception that is inappropriate for a Library and was rampant throughout your so called "information sessions" ahead of the referendum.

Furthermore, the Library budget should decrease significantly because next year you will have a great number of expense items which will not be incurred due to a free ride at town hall and the multipurpose center. And, purchasing of books, media, office equipment should be significantly reduced when you have little space to use them. A hiring freeze should have been implemented since your supposed construction start this past Spring and with the resignation of the the Library Director, the next two years is the opportunity to try living without carrying the $117,400 of salary.

And if you really feel pressed for money, there is always the Library Fund which is the money taken from taxpayers each year but not actually spent, unlike other Town departments which must return their excess balances to the Town.

This trying to put one over on the taxpayers is but another reason why the entire Library Board of Trustees should "resign".. The Trustees can no longer be trusted. The time is long overdue for their departure.

What the Library should be worrying about is, as Library patrons get comforatable with the internet and residents learn to live without the Greenburgh bricks, will taxpayers wake up some day to realize that the big joke on them is still building the big library.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Samis,

So which is it -- the library should have more temporary space or there is no need for bricks and mortar??

hal samis said...

Dear anonymous,

A syllogism is a fallacy in argument when a question is shaped so that there is no good answer. "Have you stopped beating your wife? "Yes". Oh, you used to beat her? or "No". Oh, you're still beating her?

That is how I view your construct: Library should have more temporary space or there is no need for more bricks. Choose.

However the answer is (wait for the drum roll):

Today, or during the next six months, when the "Library of Tomorrow" show is actually under construction, the Library's patrons deserve more temporary space than is being contemplated. If the existing building of 22,000 feet was judged woefully inadequate (children crying, selling books for space to shelve new books etc.) then it is truly going to be a disasterous time with less than 8,000 square feet at two locations and the same staffing. Think: Gee the book you want is at the other satellite location. But it doesn't have to be like that, the Library Board could say "Put up or shut up" to the Supervisor and take him up on his offer to secure additional, albeit rental space. And the cost of this rent cannot reduce the construction budget because by law bonding cannot be used to pay rent. But, (as John Belushi would say) NOooooOH, the Library Board wants to be a martyr and not give up their whipping boy, figuring
Feiner is more valuable on the defensive than to offer him redemption. Only the Library patrons will suffer so what's the big deal.

That said, it should come as no surprise that I can also say that the "Library of Tomorrow" need not be as big tomorrow as the Library Board led the public to believe. However that argument is not really the one that I care about. I don't really care how large it is; I care about how poorly planned and designed it is and I am concerned that the Library Board sees fit to sweep most of its problems (problems they created) under the rug. Just because they are volunteers is not an excuse to hide information, close their eyes, ears and their mouths and stick their heads in the sand when criticism approaches. Just because they have hired an architect and construction manager does not mean that the project cannot run into design and execution problems. Think County Courthouse, White Plains. And, why believe me when you can see the same architect at work in nearby Ossining and see how open that project is to public awareness. Just go to and read about the new building. Or you can go to our library's web site and read about our new building, marvel in the detail and facts presented. View the OAT meeting minutes and see what was discussed up to March 28. Or then when the cracks and problems began to emerge, the subsequent OATS minutes completely disappeared.

Or, ask yourself, if you were running the Town, would you allow the Library Board to appoint from its own ranks, its Building Committee? Would you be happy having a $19.8 million + interest = $33 million project handled by an ex High School principal (jacobs), a reading specialist (Palevsky) and a mid-level bank officer (Wolfert)? Construction on their resumes? NOoooooOh.

The person, who is running the Town, the Supervisor who also holds the title, Chief Financial Officer, is not happy either. For expressing that discomfort he is being crucified. Yes, he wanted to hold the referendum in November and the Library Board wanted it held in March, then May.
The Library Board told us that by having the referendum in May 2005, there would be a Spring 2006 construction start. Or, to repeat slightly differently; the former high school principal, the reading specialist, the bank employee, the hired architect and the hired construction manager all supported this projection at those library "information" sessions. In a few days, it will be November and construction WILL NOT start until some time in December the earliest.

Those paying for this project should already started to feel some discomfort. None of this bothers the Town Council because they believe what the high school principal, the reading specialist and the bank employee tell them, essentially: don't worry be happy.

But don't expect to find a book to take your mind off these problems.
70 to 80% of the Library collection is going to be in dead storage (can't get to it) but the Library Board won't talk to the Supervisor. Don't worry, be happy.

The Library Board says construction will only take two years. Don't worry, be happy.

And none of these problems have absolutely anything to do with the WLS/Elmsford/Ardsley situation.

Don't worry, be happy.

Anonymous said...


You obviously delight in desparaging the Library -- you wer agaianst the Bond,

but back to the original question -- if you think that bricks and mortar are outdated and unnecessary, what is the need for temporary space?

hal samis said...

Dear Anon,

It is not quite the same thing as a child pulling the legs off spiders: the Library Board has fully earned their disrespect.

I was only against the referendum being held in March (moved to May because of problems with absentee voting). I can document what the Library didn't know in their rush, I can document representations that were false, were known to be false and continued to be stated and now I am collecting dividends on my investment in showing up the Library Board. Go to the Library site, do YOU see any construction vehicles parked there?

Things don't just happen. Their travail could have been avoided by going a little slower pre-referendum but doing their homework. The Library Board has no construction background. Do you really believe that when their hopes began for voter approval started up in September/October 2004 that they would be prepared and understood their project by March 2005? Even if they had read the dummy's guide to building a larger library, I wouldn't believe they were ready to present to the public by then. In seven more months, November, they might have fully understood the project. EVen though it now much more than seven months since May 2005, they still don't understand because they are spending their time repairing, patching and defending the adopted but imperfect plan. Forgive me but I don't subscribe to the concept of "on-the-job training" with so many taxpayer dollars involved.

That said, I remind you that I have no personal pocketbook concerns how much is spent; I rent and my tax impact is minimal.
And, what will happen as a result of their knowledge shortfall, is that we will be getting the same price Library, but an inferior version to keep it within spending guidelines. We're getting chuck at sirloin prices.

The Library Trustees are clearly in over their heads and should gracefully disappear before even more bad things happen to "good" people.

As for "why more bricks today", if you don't get it already, I don't know much more to say. The Trustees are building 46,000 feet, the present Library has 22,000 feet and the temporary space adds up to under 8,000 feet. Why should patrons be punished because of the failure of the astute Library Board to secure adequate relocation space. The need for this would not have taken "professionals" by surprise.
So, patrons will have to suffer by a vastly inferior remainder of a Library during construction.
"Professional" would have understood that there may not be an appropriate 15,000 of space available on demand. "Professionals" would have understood that having Diana Juettner as liaison is not a substitute for actually going inside the old town hall to see what would be needed to occupy the building during the construction. Need I repeat that using the old town hall for temporary space was the cornerstone of the entire project timetable.
The Library Board can blame Feiner all day for their own mistake in not trekking all the way over to the old town hall and undertaking an inspection but in their rush to referendum, they never got around to doing this until two months after the vote.

Now after causing the problem, the Library Board stands in the way of easing their problem by not asking Feiner to arrange more space. The Library Board boxed into the stupid corner along with the books going to storage, Library patrons will bear the brunt of the next stage of the Board's meltdown; "amateurs" with "attitude" continue to run the project. These amateurs fought tooth and nail against the idea of bringing in outside, unaffiliated oversight.

And none of this takes away from the observation that the intended project is poorly designed as a functioning structure, as the best layout on the existing plot or even a worthy "green" project. It is without solar power, a green roof and the proposed sloped roof represents a large expense which to be lit when it is less than a bright sunny day defeats the savings of those sunny days. As for the thermal energy story, this is still ahead. First they need approval of their drilling locations and they still haven't obtained this. Then they need to actually find water...

So, there are still thousands of words to be written about the coming blunders which taxpayers will cheerfully accept. But for the near future, if having their collections in boxes in storage is acceptable, then one should ask how many need to ever come out of storage just because the new building will provide more space. If the Library Board is willing to live without them today, why are they needed tomorrow?

This is not a post about how big the Library "of tomorrow" should be. One might say you can already see "tomorrow" today at the Library in Greenwich, CT. Libraries can always add non-traditional functions under their roof and justify their space needs. The buzzword for Library Directors is talk up "cultural centers" etc.
This does not however explain away the trend to moving away from hard copies onto discs or online, despite the annoyance and fear that my generation has in using these sources. Nevertheless, in under 10 years I see libraries without any hard copy reference sections which would be a good thing because online reference can be updated daily/weekly and not depend on printing schedules. If the Library replaces this space with a restaurant, this does not a cultural center make.

But, today more space is needed during the construction period. And it could be obtained -- if the Library Board would swallow their pride. Ask the Library staff, they are in favor. It is only the Library Board in the way.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hal,

For the nth time, the library staff wants more temporary space, at least partially because they want more jobs and less layoffs. The board has to manage this. There may be less need for the proposed Young temporary space without Elmsford. The bookmobile should not be parked in or near Elsmford.

hal samis said...

Dear anon,

nth time or not, none of the fulltime staff is, per the Board's budget, being laid off.
If by managing the space shortfall, the Board is doing nothing, that is the problem in their nutshell.

What a splendid idea to remove the Library presence from proximity or contiguity to Elmsford or Ardsley.
No one from Elmsford will go the extra 1/2 mile from the Young Center to Greenburgh Town Hall. And no one from Ardsley will go to the multipurpose center at Town/Veteran Park.
Excellent thinking. You should be on the Library Board.