Sunday, January 14, 2007

library closed while construction begins..satellite libraries open on 1/24...SUGGESTION: ANOTHER SATELLITE AT EAST HARTSDALE AVE AND NATURE CENTER

The Greenburgh Library has closed its doors so that construction can start on the new 20 million library expansion that was approved in 2005 by the voters. 3 satellite libraries will open on 1/24--two rooms will be used by the library at our Town Hall; a room at the multipurpose center, AF Veteran Park will be converted into a satellite library. And the young adult collection will be placed at the Theodore Young Community Center.
I am suggesting that the town look hard to find another one or two locations: East Hartsdale Ave and the Greenburgh Nature Center are my choices, because both are destination locations for many residents.
Greenburgh residents deserve a functioning library during the 2 year construction project --additional library satellites will provide residents with the services we expect to receive from Greenburgh.


Anonymous said...

What are we going to do about parking? Why should spaces be reserved for council members at the front of the parking spaces.Once the library opens its satellite branch at Town Hall the Town Council members should do what our supervisor does and park in a non reserved spot. Let the elderly and disabled park their cars closer to the Town Hall.

hal samis said...

Howard Jacobs, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Library says he's "working" on it; that is to the reporter for the Journal News. However, unless it is meant as a big surprise to everyone, the minutes of the Trustees meeting contain no mention of this or any progress report regarding his effort.

Other than discussing the matter with his wife, Board member Ruth Jacobs of the Hartsdale Parking Authority and its subsequent attempt to illegally convey parking spaces to house a trailer for the Library, very little has been done. Meanwhile there are vacant office spaces and vacant storesfronts all over Greenburgh.

Mr. Jacobs, in denial of his responsibility fo provide adequate temporary space, is apparently content with the arrangements providing less than 6000 feet of space (all locations) and this only came about only through the generosity of the Town Supervisor and the Town Council.

It seems that paying rent to store library materials is preferable to paying rent to provide Library services. Even if the rent is higher for satellites than storage, at least a semblance of a Library would result.

Meanwhile the question remains if there will be room for patrons, Library staff and Library materials in any of these locations. Also remaining is what is happening to the 2007 budgeted $308,000 for building repairs and maintenance because there is no building to actually spend this money on. Just another slush fund hiding in broad daylight. Ask your Town Council who now thoroughly understand accounting and the importance of accountability, where is this money actually going?

And, Mr. Jacobs supports the Library's shift to a news blackout on the construction program. It turns out that letting the Public know what is going on only proves embarrassing when the problems persist. Better to control the flow of information against a unified backdrop that everything is going well.

Briefly, in review: We need to have the Referendum in May 2005 so that a Spring 2006 construction start can occur. The then available OAT meeting minutes continue, meeting by meeting, to remind the Library that the relocation plan be in place no later than December 2005. April 2006, Library no longer published OAT neeting minutes. September 2006, the Library settles for Plan B, the 6,000 feet of space replacing the 22,000 foot "bursting at the seams" old Library. January 2007, Library scheduled to have a "ground-breaking" ceremony even though vendor contracts still unsigned, approval of locations for geothermal well drilling still not obtained, status of what B should reimburse A for use of the old town hall site still undetermined and the Public is left to pronouncements by Al Regula (because the proof is not made available) that the project has been sufficiently downwards revised to stay within budget. Amidst severe cost-cutting, Cafe remains.

Now the Library is out of service until January 24. Let's see what happens on January 24.

Anonymous said...

My concern is parking. I went to Town Hall today to pay my taxes. Difficult to find parking. When the satellite library opens up at Town Hall it will be even harder to find a place to park.

Anonymous said...

WOnder if the Town Council members will give up their reserved parking spots to library patrons.

hal samis said...

Dear Residents of Unicorporated,

January's biggest problem at the Library is what to wear to the ground-breaking ceremony. Will it be cold, will it be rainy, will it snow? What if I am asked to lift a shovel? I would need to wear something loose; then too should I wear work boots, sneakers or loafers?

I mention this because the event is planned as a photo-op and otherwise has very little significance. In a rare, honest moment when responding to the Journal News, Al Regula admitted that he didn't know when construction would start.

But nevertheless the ground-breaking is scheduled.

Today the NYS Department of Evnvironmental Conservation (DEC) replied to a Greenburgh resident's email query that the DEC has not yet received an application from Greenburgh for approval to conduct geothermal drilling. The same resident has for some time been in communication with the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) which has not ruled on the acceptability of the proposed drilling locations.

For those of you who do not know what I am talking about, the Library wants to run their HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) powered by the renewable fuel source of heated water obtained through wells drilled deeply to subterranean levels where this water...MAY? be found. This energy efficient alternative would replace oil tanks or gas, a boiler/burner etc. However the location on the site is important to its efficiency whereas New York City is concerned about safeguarding the integrity of its water supply which flows through an underground "aquaduct" in the path of the Library expansion.

Engineers other than those associated with the Greenburgh Library feel that it is important to know whether the geothermal drilling will be allowed, where on the site, to how deep etc. BEFORE any actual construction starts.
The Library Trustees (Howard Jacobs, Estelle Palevsky and Susan Wolfert) have ignored this problem, when brought to their attention now going on a year, because it was not delivered by "friendlies".

Therefore the ground-breaking is really not a real, meaningful event in the alleged Spring 2006, yes 2006 start of construction, or even by mid-winter 2007. It is just scheduled to get news coverage and a picture in the Scarsdale Inquirer.

There is another problem regarding the start of construction. That is: the contracts need to be signed. As of this writing they are not.

So who will be doing the ground-breaking? Howard Jacobs?

There is still another problem. The contracts which have been accepted all address the so called "hard costs" which by cutting back on the Library amenities and alternatives as well as certain real reductions (meeting room size, parking, indoor cybermobile garaging, etc. as well as a well-received decision to eliminate the originally planned mezzanine level and decorative roof glass, this is the original plan which was estimated at $19.8 million plus interest), 46,600, yes 46,600, foot project is still being promoted as costing $19.8 million but for 46,000 feet less the interior reductions. So the total of the hard costs appears to be on target, after the Town Council gets through with hiding the over-budget amount by simultaneously issuing change orders to reduce the assignment and thus make the bids numbers appear to work. We are told that this is being done to avoid rebidding the project, but there are ramifications that question this approach but then lots of things are meant to hide the reality from Greenburgh residents.

However what I am trying to focus on and the Town is trying scrupulously to hide is the examination of the soft cost portion of the budget which is where the Construction Manager and the Architects fees are contained as well as where to look to see if the Library Team has "forgotten" to list any expenses, those covered by various contingency amounts. More on this as time goes on.

But what is the problem with letting them have their fun and pretend that construction is underway?

Because the Library has shut down prematurely and is thus robbing residents of the full functions of the our existing Library. Everyone in Town government knows that 6,000 feet in multiple locations is not fulfilling the same role as the "crowded" 22,000 foot building. Everyone knows that the Library has no place to store their trained employees and books and patrons in these pitiful spaces, spaces which saved the day courtesy of the Town Board, not the Library Board.

And where are the Library Trustees who caused the problem? Why "scouting" for additional locations if you believe Howard Jacobs' quote in the Journal News or don't believe if you read the Trustees meeting minutes.

Where is the Town Council through all of this. Why they're busy also deciding what to wear for the ceremony. I'm sure that even without closing your eyes you can envision what that photo will look like.

And, Feiner? Each day that passes without a new Library, every day that passes and the project gets down-sized (not the 46,000 feet because the exterior dimensions are already fixed, but what's inside) and still the budget cap is increasingly under siege, every day that construction is underway and the legitimate change orders occur...until when each of these days is finally over and the project is finished. Then on that day, after the Trustees take you on the sucker tour of the new children's room ("ooh, ah"); that is when the truth will hit home:
the Library rushed into the project before they understood it and the Referendum SHOULD have been held in the Fall as Feiner requested and took the heat for opposing the motherhood and apple pie appeal of "The Library".

One more thing, apart from egos, does anyone in Town government really believe that nothing could go wrong by entrusting a $20 million construction project to the on-the-job training of the Library Building committee (a former high school principal, a bank staffer/local newspaper reporter and a reading specialist). With resumes like that they could do anything, even brain surgery, which they must have done on the remainder of their pwn Board members and all of our Town Council.

What you should be seeing at the Library is not a ground-breaking but a ground-braking ceremony.
Again, if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

Stay tuned.