Wednesday, November 29, 2006

library update

I have been advised that the library construction, which had been scheduled to start this fall, has been delayed. I have been told that the bids are over budget in excess of a million dollars. I will be working with the Library Board and the Town Board to bring the library construction costs within the approved bond dollar approval ($20 million referendum). I have asked that this be discussed at the Town Board meeting on Monday, December 4th at 7:15 PM.


Anonymous said...

This has been requested repeatedly. Can someone please post the exact wording of the bond referendum --what were we supposed to get and for how much? Post a link -- read it at the town meeting

Ken Stahn said...

Why are you surprised I believe any business minded person who saw how this went down knew that it would not be completed on time and definitely over budget. Making changes to meet budget is the same as over budget because the finished product is not what was voted on and passed and the finally price will be more. You will never bring this project in on time, you are behind and you have yet to break ground and are over budget this will compare to Seward Folley.

Anonymous said...

I know it wasnt what we were told.

Do I have to file a FOIL request to get hold of the bond wording?

Mr. Feiner, I know you read these posts, I strongly suggest you post the bond wording, and let anyone who wants to say something NOW before we go forward if he thinks the proposed changes are not in accordance with the bond language (WHICH WOULD MAKE IT ILLEGAL).

Anonymous said...

If it was a properly worded bond resolution it simply empowered the Town to borrow up to $19.8 million for the purposes of new construction and renovation of existing space at the Library. The tricky part is that until you have the authority to borrow the money to pay for the plans, you don't have any real plans. All you have are "conceptual" plans. I suggest we have a zen library - no plans required and it can be as simple as Hal Samis and the Supervisor would like.

Edith Roaenblatt said...

When the Community Center was built (WITHOUT TOWN FUNDS)) we weren't allowed to spend one cent more than the one million dollars approved. Now I say the 20 million was way overboard and I can't see any reason to spend a cent more!! Didn't you expect it would be delayed and that the costs would escalate? Why the delay???

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Isn't the library an independent agency separate from municipal government? I assume that the town collector provides the library its portion of tax revenue, but is the town government responsible in any way for library matters? I thought the town and the library system were separate entities - maybe I'm wrong - so I guess I'm baffled as to why this is a matter for the town council at all. I'd think that this library situation should be handled by the library board and the library administration, and discussed on a library blog, not a town government blog.

Anonymous said...

And I have looked at the library site and they do not have the wording of the bond any place I could find it, including the archived minutes.

If no one wants to spend 25K for an attorney 3 years from now, I suggest that the town attorney look at the bond proposal and the town put it on the website.

hal samis said...

anon @ 4:02.

Thank you for supplying the sound of one hand clapping. Now if we can move past zen zings and discuss the situation. In brief for now.
It is true that the bonding documents did not specify grade A vs grade Z finishings. It is true that project estimates are made before the final plans. It is also true that what was represented at the Library information sessions is not near the Library we will eventually get. It is also true that the entire $19.8 million was not needed if, poof! the Library could be built overnight. What brought the number up to $19.8 were contingency reserves and inflation reserves of over $3 million.

So, when it is finally disclosed that the Library is over budget, know that it is over budget AFTER exhausting these built-in reserves, AFTER reducing the project amenities to lower the cost, AFTER factoring in some additional outside grant money for things like the circulation desk, etc. but BEFORE the first shovel hits the ground and BEFORE change orders occur

Anonymous said...

Dear Hal,

As you say the bond documents did not specify blah blah blah



Anonymous said...

This issue belongs on a town gov't blog if taxpayers must pay for the new library. If we're not to be taxed for Library because the Library Board has some other way raising the 20 million dollars - then a town govt blog need not be concerned.

It's very confusing really. It appears as though the Town Council members pushed for and sponsored the vote for 20million dollar bond, but the Library Board is in charge of the project. Who on the Library board is responsible overall for the project? Where does the buck stop (in this case, the many bucks)

hal samis said...

I'm am happy to supply the "answers" to real people.
When I get home I'll dig out mu copy which I got the same way you can get yours -- by filing a FOIL request.

If you want me to fax it to you, identify yourself.

It is not top secret.

Ellen said...

Since this move has been delayed, how about allowing Greenburgh's seniors to use their regular room at the "multipurpose center". Currently, they have to wait until people are done with the main room before they can move in there for their Tuesday and Thursday bridge games. Their games are supposed to start at 11am, and ever since their usual room was closed off for readiness as a library satellite location, they have to wait till noon or even later to get into a room. It's pathetic how they have been treated, and we should be doing better by them.

Anonymous said...


thats a great idea. I dont know was done to get the multipurpose center "ready", but if volunteers are needed to help redo the room, just put up a notice, and give notice what might be needed (in addition to people, ladders, step ladders, suvs, etc)


hal samis said...

Dear 5:19,
..."the library board is in charge..."

You have hit the nail on the head. Do you work in construction because I know of a job opening eventually that will provide maybe three years employment because those running the job are learning on the job.

The Library expansion project is being run by the Library Board of Trustees. In particular is the Building Committee, Howard Jacobs (retired school principal), Estelle Palevsky (reading specialist) and Susan Wolfert (former bank employee and Scarsdale Inquirer Greenburgh reporter) -- all excellently qualified, don't you agree, to head up the $20 million, plus $13 million in interest, library expansion. And it is not just simple new construction, it is a project consisting of renovation of the existing structure (22,000 feet) joined to a new construction element (24,000 feet) and both under the confinements of the Wicks Law.

But don't worry there is an Architect who has built libraries, a Construction Manager, Triton and our very own Al Regula, the head of DPW. The Architect promised to deliver the site plan in October 2005 but didn't until March 2006. The Construction Manager did the original estimates of the project but included $300,000 to use the old town hall building for temporary space. Unfortunately he never inspected the building interior and Councilwoman Diana Juettner (liaison to the Library) never otherwise informed them of those existing problems necessitating the purchase of a new town hall. Obscure dteails like mold, leaky roof, non ADA compliant bathrooms, NO ELEVATOR, etc. Nine months after the estimate, the Construction Manager went inside and the real cost to use the building was prohibitive so a fruitless search for over a year seeking alternate space ended with no fruit, only about 6000 feet of existing town space to replace the overcrowded 22,000 feet old library.

It gets better because the Town COUNCIL appointed Al Regula to keep them informed and he does; he says everything is on schedule and on budget right up until it is not. Not when it actually was (May 2005 Referendum held promising Spring 2006 start) and from the earliest accounting, the project was estimated as $500,000 over in February 2006. Mr Regula regularly informs Town Board that the project is ok, that the $500,000 will go away and don't worry, keep the faith. Mr. Regula's town construction credits include the construction of a sanitation garage too small for the intended vehicles and the multi-purpose center which went over budget until scaled back.

But don't let the Town Council off the hook thinking they are listening only to Al Regula. I have been writing over 200 emails copying them so that they could see what's really go on and where the project is headed. At the last two appearances at Town Hall to feature Mr. Regula reporting on the Library, the Town COUNCIL from Mr. Sheehan's mouth, meeting #1 and from Diana Juettner's mouth (quick study), meeting #2, the public is not allowed to speak directly to Mr. Regula to ask questions because his appearance is called a "Report" not a discussion.

So you see the project is in good hands and being run by people with experience, as was oft pointed out by the Town COUNCIL.

Next Monday the Town Board will be examining the proposed 2007 Town budget. One of the departments in this budget is the Library which is presenting its own (as do all town departments) proposed budget. But here's the odd thing that the Town Comptroller refuses to make a definitive ruling regarding...

By virtue that their budget is part of the Town Budget says that it is not an Independent Library District, like a School District which would submit its budget, for approval, directly to voters.

Nor is it treated like the other Town Departments either. The Library Board of Trustees determines salaries and the other line items not pooled with the Town like pension, medical, etc.
The Town Board claims it is unable to make changes in individual line items but can only accept or reject their budget in its entirety.
The Town Board has never played the "reject" card to force negotiation. And unlike the other Town Departments, unspent money at the Library does not get transfered back to the Town's funds but carries over in a special Library Fund to do with as the Library alone deems. They get rewarded for overestimating their annual needs. The Library Fund has an over $300,000 balance, derived mostly from not using their budgeted amounts.

As for the expansion project, the Referendum allowed the Library to spend up to $19.8 on building a Library with practically no parameters of what was actually to be built. Since the Town Board was loathe to be in charge of the Project and thus to force the interpretation of what kind of Library the Greenburgh Library is, the members of the Town Council saw this as the opportunity to stay on the sunny side of the street and go along with the Library Board running the project. After all the Library not only rhymes with mommie but also brings up the warm associations of apple pie and the education of our young so who (sub phylum of humans known as politicians) wants to seen as fighting the Library, especially over only $33 million of taxpayers' money. And, in case you didn't know, the groups who have the time to vote are mommies and seniors, the two groups both the Library and politicans court.

So where does the buck stop. Not with the Supervisor who has gone on the record countless times (at great political cost) asking for an INDEPENDENT Project Manager to provide oversight. And countless times the Town Council has overruled this request saying we already have a Library Team.

And for the bloggers who have gone to the Library web site in the hopes of finding the bonding resolution, let me tell you what else you are not going to see.
You won't see any OAT (Owner/Architect/Triton) meeting minutes after March 2006 because the Library Board didn't like it when I quoted from them to their chagrin. You won't see very much of anything except for a few paragraphs of summary (everything's fine) and even that stops in August (as of a few days ago). On the home page you will see a notation that the move is postponed but no explanation. Libraries are about providing information except when it can be used to support a Global Positioning System which points exactly to where the buck should stop.

Anonymous said...

Holy Cow, Hal. What a mess.
First suggestion that comes to mind for the council and supervisor:
Let Mr. Regula get back to running the DPW so that our leaf pick up can start - it's Nov.29 and the leaf pick up is nul and void all over town. How many jobs can you dump on one employee, no matter how competent he is.
No. 2. For the Council and Supervisor - for heaven's sake - put away the political hatchets and get shaking and cooperating on this $20 million dollar job! Same goes for Library Board. At this point it appears to be a battle between the "in folks" who know and seem to dilike each other a lot. (I sense that from watching a few Town Board meetings on TV)Lucky for all of you that most of the thousands of people who are paying the bill don't pay much attention. But at some point if this goes on for much longer, they are bound to find out and you'll all be out on your arses.

Anonymous said...

The Town Council members should be ashamed of themselves. They delegated their oversight responsibility to the Library Board. The Library Board may know something about books. They don't know much about construction. Last year Paul Feiner almost lost the primary because he warned the community that the library construction project wasn't being planned properly. He was right. He got crucified for speaking the truth.

Anonymous said...

Hold another referendum. Let the people decide how to handle the library problems.

Anonymous said...

Paul Feiner did not almost lose the election because of the library. There were a number of controversial issues -- so lets not make the library to be so all encompassing.

That being said, I agree with the poster before this -- we are so far off the mark, we should just start all over.

Anonymous said...

I voted against Paul Feiner last time because I was upset with his stand on the library. He was right. Reminds me of the Iraq war. The handful of Congressional representatives who came out against the war were ridiculed for being pro terrorists and anti americans. They were right. It's important that our elected officials tell us what they really think instead of what we want to hear.

Anonymous said...

It is amazing to me that the Town Council (ex the Supervisor)puts its energies to pounding the Supervisor, for everything, and at every opportunity and every meeting. All they can manage is to fluff their own feathers by hiring an assistant, and what did they accomplish but this disaster.
Its time for them (ex the Supervisor) to RESIGN en masse, and start over again. They are a sad group, and this proves it.
How do we propose a resolution for the non-effectives to resign?

Feiner is the problem said...

Paul Feiner is the problem. He has been around far too long. He has little or no credibility with the rest of the town board. No one will listen to him even if he is right on this or that small bore issue. He is polarizing. He is ethically challenged. He has poor relationships within his own party and municipal leaders in both greenburgh and the surrounding communities. This makes him ineffective and an albatross. He was for a new library albeit a smaller one. So What. This makes him right? A ten million dollar project would have been as poorly managed as this one appears to be. When did we ever hear Feiner say the library board was not qualified to run a project of this size until very very recently? He was for the Frank's site even after all of its problems were revealed. When did he tell Juettner (another lifer on the board) she had no right to be the town board liasion to the library since she lives in a village and has no financial interest in the greenburgh library? Feiner governs by press releases and the seat of his pants. As Valhalla showed, you cannot fool all the people all the time (and if anyone should have resigned over that it was slush fund Feiner). We need to put this career politician out to pasture.

hal samis said...

Dear farmboy,

If anyone should be out to pasture, it is the Town Council who ignored all the red flags that were continually waved in their faces but they ignored them, pretending to listen to the counsel of their project envoy, Al Regula.

So protective of his "infallibility" that during his periodic Library Reports to the Town Board at their public meetings,
they refused to allow the Public to ask questions or make comments while he was available to respond.

Garbage in, garbage out and that is what he may do best while running DPW. He may talk the talk and walk the walk but he also knows how to mislead a willing Town Council who like keeping convenient fall guys around so they can continue their long-running prime time series, "It May Have Happened, But If It Happened, We Didn't Know".

It might not be good management for Feiner to announce publicly that the Library Board was not qualified, after all they are volunteers adn they have a history. But if the message somehow didn't get through to you, what do you think he meant when he thrice asked to hire an independent Project Manager for which he was thrice refused by the Town Council? Do you think he was just trying to pad the payroll or did you not understand his explanation for why he felt the project and taxpayers needed someone to protect their project and their funding? I believe the phrase used repeatedly was someone to provide "oversight".
Apparently this went over your head.

No one is going to lose the argument that the expansion project was never in the right hands from the outset. It is still in the wrong hands and the overages and schedule delays are not yet finished.

I am a "told you so" kind of guy and I've purchased a large supply of throat lozenges for this purpose.

The one single thing that can help the Library get out their self-incurred mess is for their Building Committee (Jacobs, Wolfert and Palevsky) to acknoweldge that they are in way over their heads and resign.

OUTRAGED said...

I am a very angry taxpayer. How can the Town Council get away with this? They are not doing the job we elected them to do: to make sure that a 20 million dollar library is constructed within budget, on time. Call me OUTRAGED. I voted for the library budget, was outraged with Feiner last year when he came out against the library construction. Not anymore.

Anonymous said...

Well, hopefully as a result of this mess, the Library Board will now see that it needs a project manager.

Anonymous said...

As a person new to the blogging phenom, and a registered Democrat, I will take for me what is a step of courage (although being anonymous shows my residue of cowardice) and say that a lot of the problems we are now encountering - maybe all of the problems with the Town Council vs. the Supervisor which are resulting in unprecdented dysfunction and gridlock, (no leaf collection, huge overruns on library costs, fighting with the villages, renegging on Westhelp promise, costly law suits etc. are due the Democratic Committee of the Town of Greenburgh. The Town Dems Committee did not support Feiner for re-election last year. The candidate they supported lost. Those they supported for Town Council seats won. Subsequently, the Town Council is acting as though their mandate is to fight Feiner on all things and the rest of Town business be damned.

There are 10 months until the next election. I urge the Dem committee, whoever you are, to call off the attack dogs. Accept that a sufficient number of voters disagreeed with you on the Supervisor vote. Urge your Council members to do the Town's business. I promise you that we voters are not stupid. We will see who really cares about doing what needs to be done in Town and will vote for good people when we see them. You are in the danger zone, not completely in touch with the electorate Town wide. I am sure some worthy opponents from, dare I say it, - "other political parties" are thinking about their viability as candidates! Be statesmen/women, not hacks; be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Anonymous said...

Oh get real,

1. "reneging on Westhab" -- some would call trying to obey the law

2. fighting with the villages -- what fights -- these are still teh fights with unincoporporated greenburgh over budget issues that feiner pushed and charged incorrectly.

all your articulate writing doesnt change the facts

and anyone who saw the town meeting over westhelp saw fiener berating and pushing the board when they tried to find solutions.

Anonymous said...

Some of us think that the Town Council wants our government to be disfunctional so that they could get rid of Feiner. Could the library screw ups be intentional?

Anonymous said...

I dont think the Council has to try to get govt to be dysfunctional -- Feiner can do that all on his own -- doesnt need help

Farmer in the Dell said...

questions needing answers:

1.who appointed the current members of the library board?

2. during the referendum period, did any member of the town board make the point that the proposed library project requires a project manager?

3. did other libraries in westchester (e.g., yonkers, ossining) hire a project manager when they built new libraries?

4. should diana juettner, a village resident, continue to be the town board liasion to the greenburgh public library?

memo to mr samis: you do not dispute that no one will listen to mr feiner at this point. in farm country we try to mend fences. if feiner is serious about his concern for the library project, what has he done to address his antagonistic behavior that his lead to his isolation?

Anonymous said...

Dear Farmer, you raise good points --

The problem as I see it is the Library Board will not want to see any revisions that could result in a new referundum. I dont know how to get around them.

In a perfect world, I would like to see all agree that we need a new library and all pledge support. I think that we all may need to compromise.

hal samis said...

Dear Farmer Dell,

Are you related to Michael? Can you get me a deal?

Let me discuss, for now (time constraint), some of your comments. A Project Manager is not something that every project requires. The "tipping point" is not based on the dollars spent either. Large builders have Project Managers on staff because there are so many administrative matters that require disposition from the central office versus day-to-day operational matters that are handled by the Construction Manager which is more of a field, onsite role.

Whereas $20 million is a lot of money to residents, as a project budget it does not normally dictate the creation of another management level (and cost) to run this size project.

Why then do we need one in Greenburgh? Because the "Owner" at the OAT meeting is the Building Committee of the Library Board and these three people, not surprisingly, have no previous experience or knowledge in running such our large and complicated project. And, to a lesser extent, they had little prior familiarity with the Town approval processes or a lot of the procedural, non construction aspects. They come from a world in which books are due back in two weeks and if they are overdue you pay a fine.

Thus, in learning "on-the-job" their teachers are the very people they should be overseeing -- the Architect and the Construction Manager, selected and hired by the Library Board (to Town Board, this is who we want). Thus, the Building Committee depends on these "employees" to tell them what they want to hear and these employees, who do know the life cycle of these projects (shit happens) also know that once the fail-safe point is passed, they will be in complete control. The fail-safe point is the point where the project becomes so entangled that it becomes wholly dependant upon the Architect and the Construction Manager because there is no one else to turn to. This leaves the "Owner" in the position of having to defend even the obvious mistakes (damage control) because now they have to make their hires look good or they themselves will look bad. And so it goes until the last day when the community either gets a severely amputated Library or more money has to be found to bail everyone out.

When the "owner" inexperienced like the Library Board, you need to bring in someone who is looking out for the project, not their own reputations or interests. Thus if the Library Board had asked an "outsider" with experience, particularly one who would bring a contrarian point of view to the OAT meeting proceedings, maybe hiring a professional might not have been necessary. Feiner had offered the services of such an individual, resident Vic Weinstein, but the Library Board would not allow him to even speak at the OAT meetings. So, without a volunteer "expert", the only alternative was to push for the Project Manager with the additional cost. I wanted a Project Manager from the start but for the Supervisor to adopt that attitude then would have been premature. It was not his dollars to spend, the Public voted to allow the Library to proceed. When the project started to show the stress, that was the correct point to step into the picture, which he did. Whatever his position prior to the Referendum does not need another review of both sides' actions, what I am stating is that he should not be faulted for anything regarding his concern to see that it got done on time andon budget once the Referendum said: "here's the money, let's get this sucker off the ground..."
However Feiner is not the pilot, for that version you need to speak to Howard Jacobs.

Your comment that since there is friction leading to Feiner's isolation by the Town Council and that this condition results in his inability to make things happen or happen the right way, is absurd.

Your theory cannot be argued because you have already concluded that this has come about because of Feiner. Since you have already called him guilty, you are playing the syllogism game of "have you stopped beating your wife" where either "yes" or "no" leads to indictment. If you want to re-submit your hypothesis I will respond and if you do, let me put my own words in my own mouth also.
You could try "Do I dispute..." in question form instead.

What we do agree on is that Diana Juettner should not be the liaison to the Library. Whereas I concur with your statement that since she is a Village resident...I would add however that she has caused the Library more problems by (before others set her straight) going along with Sunrise for the old town hall portion of the site and for not sharing with the Library Board that they would NOT want to consider the old town hall building for relocation because the very problems that were cited (by the Town Board) as reasons for the Town government needing to bail (Not ADA compliant, the roof leaked, the wiring needed replacement, mold, no elevator, etc.) as well as the Town's own need for additional space -- by not telling the Library Board about these existing conditions the expansion project could already have been underway. Thus I would support her being publicly flogged as well.

And don't forget at the last Library "report" by Al Regula to the Town Board at the meeting; it was she who reminded the Supervisor, when he wanted to allow the public to ask questions,
that it was a "report" and thus no public comment should be allowed.

She has a lot to answer for when the project finally is built. And by then she will be up for re-election. In the meantime, next year you can focus on the other two, Bass and Barnes, who are and also don't want to know anything bad about the Library. If they want to be ostriches, maybe you have some spare dell for them to hang, although they are doing a very good job of it by themselves right where they are.

moment of truth for feiner said...

dear mr samis:

do you know who appointed mr jacobs and company? and who are they accountable to?

did yonkers or ossining library projects have project managers?

do you dispute there is friction between the town council members and mr feiner? please tell me what mr feiner has done since the email imbroglio to mend fences with the town council members? again, if he cares about the library project why wont he take a step to admit he was wrong about a number of things to show he is at least willing to turn a new corner.

or is he simply a follower of karl rove's theory that you never admit mistakes? even his supporters concede he makes errors. truth time mr feiner.

Grateful to Samis said...

If it weren't for Hal Samis the Town Board and the Library Board would probably be able to get away with the disaster they created. Going up against a Town Board which refuses to listen or admit a mistake, ever, and going up against a Library Board which is both incompetent and self-righteous, is tough business. Hal Samis deserves a medal.

Anonymous said...

What do we have to be grateful to Hal Samis for? Entertaining reading of blogs? Has he ever done anything? If you/he thinks he is so great, let him run for office.

hal samis said...

a NON @ 3:08,

We do what we can and runing for office is not my goal. However I did apply for the vacant seat on the Library Board of Trustees.

And when did running for office or even holding office become the validation of being great.

I think great is relative and to someone afraid to even sign their name to their own comments, I think "great" is a concept you will never understand.

Or you could hear it from Grantland Rice.

Anonymous said...


I think you are confusing "grateful" with great. The original poster said we should be grateful for Hal Samis, well for what should be grateful. I guess Feiner is grateful for any blogs supporting him, but I am perplexed as to what the rest of us should be grateful for.

And to answer that question -- running for office could be an answer.

hal samis said...

aNON @ 8:53

"If you/he thinks he is so great, let him run for office."
-from the original poster

"I think you are confusing "grateful" with great."
- your post

It is very difficult to respond to anonymous bloggers who are reading challenged, even from short posts.