Yes, like a lot of things over the past two years, the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on our project.
Staff at the New York State Education Department’s Facilities and Planning Division – which issues building permits for schools and libraries – needed to work remotely for most or 2020 and 2021. That delayed review and approval times of the satellite branches right at the very launch of the project.
Yes, because of the historic nature of the Quonset Huts, the project needed approval from the New York State Historic Preservation Office, often referred to as SHPO. This was a time-consuming step that was not anticipated.
The satellite branches were also plagued by the now well-known international supply chain crisis. Building materials and supplies – which went up in cost by unprecedented levels – were significantly delayed. Supply chain delays continue to impact the project, as it is impacting every other construction project in the nation.
As a result, we had to adjust the construction timetable of the satellite branches, expediting materials where we could.
In addition, when the main library’s exterior demolition was completed, engineers identified a number of unanticipated issues — related to previous renovation projects — that require immediate remediation. The primary issues focus on enhancing the structural integrity of the elevator shafts and making them ADA compliant, steel beams with insufficient support, as well as exterior wall fortification. These unforeseen issues will add time to the main building construction process.
While the cost of this remediation work has not been fully determined, the library cannot borrow more than the $22.7-million-dollar amount authorized by voters. Moreover, the library trustees are commited to not going back to the community to ask for additional borrowing. Instead, we will be aggressively seeking private foundation and government grants, as well as working with the construction team to identify all available cost-saving options. Our goal is to deliver modern, state-of-the-art library buildings that the community deserves and needs.
Because of building supply price escalations combined with the contractual rise in construction labor costs, every month that main library building stays open will cost taxpayers at least $50,000. So, in order to stay on-schedule and within the budget approved by voters in 2019, we need to close the main library building on June 3 so we can begin work and have the building sealed before the winter weather arrives.
Thanks to Brookhaven Town officials, we are temporarily relocating core library services to the town-owned Mastic Recreation Center at 15 Herkimer Street. The Knights of Columbus has also generously offered their facility for indoor and outdoor programming.
Core library services offered at the 6,625 square foot Mastic Recreation Center will include computers, internet access, reference, book and media lending, and a myriad of indoor programs. This will include special programs for older adults that will coincide with the reestablishment of the town’s Senior Nutrition Program. Plans are to combine special library programs for seniors with the mealtime scheduled on site.
A “perfect storm” of extraordinary and unexpected circumstances, combined with a time-consuming and exhaustive search for no-cost, temporary operating space, left little time for the library to communicate its revised plans to the community. While this move may cause some temporary disruption and inconvenience, we ask the community to take the long view – with patience and understanding as we build a better library system for the future of all our residents.
Yes, in fact libraries in Suffolk County have a strong cooperative agreement that has always allowed direct access to materials and some services. Residents can certainly utilize any nearby library during this transition period.
Yes. First, the library is already operating at a greatly reduced staffing level. Second, because just like during the height of the pandemic, we will be offering remote services via phone, email, and chat. We will also need staff to schedule, organize, and conduct remote and off-site programming. In addition, we will need to staff the Mastic Recreation Center as well as the Knights of Columbus when we have programming at that site.
Yes, local residents who own a business and meet the basic requirements listed in the bid offering will be able to bid on the work. All contractors must meet prescribed insurance requirements. Contractors will be required to offer a bid bond and a performance bond before contracts are executed. All insurance requirements will be set forth in the bid specifications.
Yes, all significant construction work will be publicly bid, in compliance with New York State law. Some small trade work may be procured via RFP (Request for Proposals) from local contractors.
Bids for the construction project will be advertised in local newspapers and will be posted to the library website.
Yes, the library will be working with the contractors to ensure that local vendors are included in the construction process as much as possible.
Residents will enjoy a state-of-the art main library and two satellite branches that are sufficient to meet the needs of our community’s 56,000 residents for years to come.
There will be plenty of space for our book and media collections; new and expansive meeting room spaces with audio/video and teleconference systems as well as assistive listening devices; beautiful new outdoor spaces to meet all of our varied programming uses (including a children’s garden); an updated indoor performance space with a full stage; expanded public seating in every department; a lounge area to use laptops/charge devices; ample, clean, ADA-compliant restrooms; plentiful quiet spaces to read or study; additional computers and state-of-the-art technology and high-speed internet to access online information for education, recreation, and personal growth (including expanded “job readiness” resources, such as free online classes to retool/retrain for the future); makerspaces featuring 3D printers, virtual reality, and coding/robotics; a safer library experience with updated security cameras and more lighting in the parking lot; more parking (the two satellite branches will offer 50 parking spaces each); and more meeting rooms at the satellite branches, releasing the burden from the main building.
A new automated self-return/sorting system will save time and money. There will also be an archival room for the safe storage of important local history collections.
In addition, the newly renovated main library will be complemented by two new satellite branches – set in locations that will truly serve residents in all corners of our large district – that will serve as a source of pride for the entire community and will enhance real estate values.
Time and again library customers have told us that they need more quiet spaces to work and study, and that they wish there were more sessions of (and more access to) educational programs for adults, ranging from yoga to cooking classes to courses on preparing for high school equivalency exams. Renovating the main building will provide more meeting rooms to conduct these programs.
At the main library the entrance lobby and front desk area will be separated from the adult section by a soundproof glass partition. Since many transactions occur at the front desk (getting new library cards, paying fees, returning items, etc.), separating this area of nearly continuous activity will make it significantly quieter on the rest of the floor. Partitioning off a computer lab area and adult reading lounge within the adult space will also add more quiet areas, as sounds from interactions at the information desk will be blocked by the new glass partitions. Following the renovation, adults will be able to enjoy an enclosed computer area and a separate quiet reading lounge area removed from the hub of transactions and phone conversations.
Main floor staff offices will also be repurposed into meeting rooms, program spaces, and study spaces for our customers. This will provide at least five new rooms for the public to occupy that currently are not available. Staff offices are slated to move to the basement area to provide this much-needed space for customers.
The Mastic Beach Branch — which opened on January 14, 2023 — is 7,000 square feet on one level. It offers a streamlined and convenient library experience for local residents on Neighborhood Road with an abundance of natural light throughout the building, along with ample parking.
A collection of popular reading materials, such as bestsellers, children’s books, and DVDs are housed in the building. Items requested from the main library and through interlibrary loan are available for pickup.
The flexible space includes dedicated areas for children, teens, and adults. All furniture and shelving has wheels so they can be moved to rearrange space as needed. The adult area offers seating for individual quiet work, multiple computers, and three program rooms. The children and teen areas have tables and chairs for students to do homework or study. There are dedicated computers for students to use. The program room within the space is adjustable in size with moveable walls.
A special feature of the Mastic Beach Satellite Branch is an outdoor area thatn can be used for children’s programming. A small fenced-in area will be used for seasonal story times, active programs, and nature programs, enriching the library experience for families and will be located adjacent to the children’s department.
Other Long Island libraries are incorporating small, enclosed outdoor spaces to enhance their children’s areas. Visit the Middle Country Public Library’s Nature Explorium in person at 101 Eastwood Boulevard in Centereach, or online at www.natureexplorium.org, to see what a small but dedicated planned garden activity area can look like and offer children. Most recently, the Longwood Public Library (which expanded and reopened in 2017) created a Learn and Play Children’s Garden. This space, located behind the children’s room, is an interactive sensory garden designed specifically for families with young children. Water play, music, and art are interwoven with nature in a beautiful, colorful, organic space. See a layout of it here. A similar outdoor program space may be possible at the Moriches Satellite Branch.
Lastly, thanks to the efforts of former County Legislator Rudy Sunderman, the library was able to secure a long-term 30-year lease (with a provision for two 10-year extensions) for a small parcel of land directly across the street from the Mastic Beach Branch at just $10 a year. The lot had two abandoned eye-sores that were removed thanks to the Town of Brookhaven. The property was also cleared, graded, and fenced so it can be secured for outdoor community programs and activities such as seasonal outdoor performances, concerts, children’s activities, and other programs. It will also be a place to enjoy reading, free Wi-Fi, or a leisurely stroll in nice weather. For an example of how one Long Island library uses an acre-sized lot, see Sachem Public Library’s Inside/Out Garden.
The Moriches Branch will be 7,000 square feet on one level. It will offer a streamlined and convenient library experience for residents of Mastic and Moriches with ample parking.
A collection of popular reading materials, such as bestsellers, children’s books, and DVDs will be housed in the building. Items requested from the main library and through interlibrary loan will be available for pickup.
The flexible space will include dedicated areas for children, teens, and adults. All furniture and shelving will have wheels so they can be moved to rearrange space as needed. The adult area will offer seating for individual quiet work, multiple computers, and three program rooms. The children and teen area will have tables and chairs for students to do homework or study. There will be dedicated computers for students to use. The program room within the space will be adjustable in size with moveable walls.
A special feature of the Moriches Branch is an expansive outdoor area with possible use for both small and large outdoor programming.
Other Long Island libraries are incorporating small, enclosed outdoor spaces to enhance their children’s areas. Visit the Middle Country Public Library’s Nature Explorium in person at 101 Eastwood Boulevard in Centereach, or online at www.natureexplorium.org, to see what a small but dedicated planned garden activity area can look like and offer children. Most recently, the Longwood Public Library (which expanded and reopened in 2017) created a Learn and Play Children’s Garden. This space, located behind the children’s room, is an interactive sensory garden designed specifically for families with young children. Water play, music, and art are interwoven with nature in a beautiful, colorful, organic space. See a layout of it here.
The projected annual operating cost for each satellite branch is approximately $500,000. Since it was first anticipated that we would rent the property in Mastic Beach and open it right away, the library budget for 2019-2020 included the cost to operate the Mastic Beach Satellite Branch.
The anticipated retirement of several senior level staff members over the next two years will provide additional savings, which will be used to defray the costs of operating in three locations.
Yes, it will. The installation of the latest HVAC systems, LED lighting, new windows, and insulation will significantly decrease the ongoing utilities cost of the main building.
There is also the prospect of building in features – such as ready-to-install solar capacity and ready-to-go connections for natural gas-powered backup generators – which can be planned for now and added at a later date.
In addition to the funds approved by the community in the bond referendum vote, the library will pursue numerous fundraising initiatives, apply for various government aid and grants, and secure donations through a soon-to-be established library foundation. Library trustees also committed $4 million from its capital reserve fund which reduced the overall cost of the bond.
Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Library Alterations $16,351,658
Mastic Beach Satellite Branch Addition and Alteration $4,502,426
Moriches Satellite Branch New Building $5,836,880
Total Project Cost $26,690,964
Less $4 Million Library Capital Reserve Fund – $4,000,000
Total Bond Amount $22,690,964
On December 10, 2019, district residents approved the issuance of up to $22,690,964 in bonds to finance a portion of the cost of the project. By law this amount cannot be increased after the vote, nor can the library request additional funding from taxpayers for the project. The bond amount will not change.
For the average homeowner (based on a $1,995 assessed valuation), the estimated cost is approximately $7 per month or $85 per year over the life of the bond.
The exact cost is specific to each homeowner based on the assessed value of their home. You can find your assessed value (AV) on your most recent property tax bill. You can also access the information online. Click here, accept the Terms and Conditions, and type in your property address to view the assessed value of your home. You may also bring your property tax bill to the library and we will help you determine your cost.
How many homes are assessed at $1,995 or less? The answer: 63 percent will pay $7 or less per month, with just 37 percent paying more. Here are the raw numbers: There are 14,365 single family homes in the district. 9,057 are assessed at $1,995 or less and 5,308 are assessed above $1,995.
How long will the community be paying for the bond?
Just like how a mortgage lets you pay for a long-term investment over a long period of time, so does a building bond. The terms of the building bonds are as follows:
Mastic Beach Satellite Branch: $502,426 * 10 years
Moriches Satellite Branch: $5,836,880 30 years
Main Library: $16,351,658 25 Years
Total to be bonded: $22,690,964
* $4 million library contribution will offset the cost of the Mastic Beach Satellite Branch.
The library will borrow the funds for the project in stages. The library borrowed $11,471,123 to cover construction of the branches and for some soft costs (professional fees/design) for the main building renovation in the fall of 2021. The library will borrow funds for the main library renovation in 2022. The debt service (principal and interest payments on the bonds) will be reflected in the annual library budget and will appear as part of your library tax on your annual property tax bills.
Houses are built of wood, which is a fraction of the cost of concrete, masonry, and steel used for public buildings.
Prevailing wage labor rates – which vary by trade – can be as much as 75 percent more expensive than private sector building. (See more on prevailing wage laws below.)
Insurance requirements are higher on commercial projects.
Equipment used to build commercial/governmental buildings are much more complex and expensive than what is used in residential construction. Cranes, trailering in large HVAC components, concrete, and steel are added expenses.
Mechanical and electrical systems are much more sophisticated and expensive.
Furniture, fixtures, and equipment costs alone on a commercial or public project can approach $50 per square foot.
When a project is to be used by the public, specifications are written much more comprehensively than for a residence.
Prevailing wage laws
Under New York State Labor Law, contractors and subcontractors must pay the prevailing rate of wages and supplements (fringe benefits) to all workers under a public work contract. Employers must pay the prevailing wage rate set for the locality where the work is performed. This applies to all laborers, workers, or mechanics employed under a public work contract. The New York State Department of Labor Bureau of Public Work administers Articles 8 and 9 of the New York State Labor Laws:
Article 8 covers public construction.
Article 9 covers building service contracts.
Wage schedules are issued on a county-by-county basis. They contain the pay rates for each work classification. Under state law, all contracts between a government entity and a contractor must adhere to these schedules.
An example of a recent New York State prevailing wage schedule can be found here.
Prior to the bond vote, the board of trustees actively sought feedback from community members concerning possible renovations to the existing facility; possibly building a new library; purchasing other buildings in the community; and/or renting space for library usage.
Community leaders of civic and parent organizations, local governments, and the schools participated in special meetings to provide input on how to proceed with obtaining more library space. As a result of those 2019 meetings, the library trustees generated a list of guiding principles to aid in their decision-making process.
That commitment didn’t end with the passage of the bond. The library trustees established four committees for residents to join to help provide input and feedback to the design team and to library representatives. Due to the Library facility closure as a result of COVID-19, work on the branch plans needed to move forward. It is our hope to gather more community input in the near future.
In addition, library trustees and administration will continue to provide updates at the monthly board meetings. Where needed, the architect and construction manager may provide updates as well.
Library trustees will be working with community leaders to restore the Little Red Schoolhouse (LRS). We are working with our architect to determine the full scope and cost of renovating the LRS. Once that is determined, the Library board and administration will work with community civic groups, elected officials, and non-profit organizations to seek private funding and government grants for the project.
Possible uses include leasing the space to a non-profit or community-based organization. It could also provide a space for events, programs, and community meetings.
The Moriches Satellite Branch is being constructed adjacent to the LRS, with the possibility of connecting the entrances sometime in the future. The 7,000-square-foot branch’s appearance is architecturally consistent with that of the LRS and will serve as a valuable, permanent library facility easily accessible to residents living near this portion of our geographically broad service area.
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