Why Isn’t the Existing Library Meeting the Needs of Residents?
The current library building site can no longer adequately meet the community’s needs on many levels, space and parking being the most pressing concerns.
Since the library first opened in 1982, the population of our area has grown by 59%. When the building was expanded in 1995, the addition was limited by the size of the lot that had been donated to the library by the Serota family. The largest possible amount of space was added to the building. Even so, the expansion could not provide enough room for future growth. Since 1995, the population of our area has increased by another 17%. Furthermore, library service has changed and expanded in unforeseen ways.
Many states set minimum standards for what size public library buildings should be in square feet. This size varies from a low of .6 up to 1.25, with the accepted minimum standard being around 1 square foot per capita population. To see public library standards for NYS visit http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/libdev/ministan.htm. An adequate amount of library space for a region of our size would be around 60,000 – 65,000 sq. feet. The current building is 45,000 sq. feet. New York does not specify minimum square footage requirements but does state that the library must maintain “a facility to meet community needs, including adequate space, lighting, shelving, seating, and restrooms.”
Lack of space to conduct our everyday operations is an ongoing concern. It is common practice for the library to be forced to turn away residents when popular programs – such as yoga and cooking classes – fill less than five minutes after registration begins with there being no capacity to add more sessions. Advanced registration dates for classes and workshops are necessary in order to give everyone a fair chance at getting into the program and avoid turning customers away on the day of the event. Residents who seek rooms to take a test, get tutoring or study are often told there is not any available space, especially on weekends and evenings.
In addition to making maximum use of the current library building space, we serve residents five nights a week in classroom space at the William Floyd High School, at the William Floyd Family Center two mornings per week, and at off-site locations throughout the tri-hamlet area, including movie theaters, parks, beaches, historic sites and more. This is staff intensive as it requires bringing supplies and materials offsite. In addition, when programs are offsite, there is no opportunity for library customers to check materials out. The current building is clearly not able to provide the needed program and meeting space that a community of our population size needs.
Since the library doesn’t own any of land surrounding the building, we are unable to expand beyond the footprint we currently occupy. The owner of the shopping center is William Floyd Plaza Associates. As constructed, the current building does not allow for expansion. We have investigated adding an additional story, but this cannot be accomplished without acquiring the front parking lot and losing all our parking. Landlords in the existing shopping center are not willing to sell parking space to the library. A plan that adds two branches at either end of the community will help alleviate the parking issues at the main branch.
Second in priority is the aging technology infrastructure of the library.
We have many computers in the library that are in high demand. To address the demand, we added laptops for customers to use while in the building. Mobile computers, however, come with security risks and are prone to damage. In 2015, we built the Technology Center, a 26-computer lab at the Town of Brookhaven’s Mastic Recreation Center on Herkimer Street, which expands the availability of computers and access to the internet. However, the current limitations of the hours of this town-run building mean that the library’s Technology Center is not open evenings or weekends. In 2018, the library made wireless hotspots available for customers to borrow in order to gain internet access at home or elsewhere. The 15 devices we own are so popular that there is a wait of at least 30 days to borrow one.
Throughout the building, there are spots where there is no wireless signal, including most of the meeting rooms. Without dedicated internet cabling, which does not exist in the meeting rooms, we rely on wireless internet to get service in these areas. It is unacceptable that we are not able to provide a reliable internet connection in public meeting rooms, which could be used for presentations or workshops involving internet access.
The antiquated and decades old infrastructure of the current building cannot sustain the demands of new technology, telecommunications and computer labs for everyday use. New technology would result in computers with fast internet access so that adults could file online applications, such as paperwork for veterans’ benefits, social security, government forms, job-related use (such as taking online courses and maintaining certifications), and job searches for the unemployed. In addition, improved electric service and upgraded networking infrastructure is required to add wireless signal boosters to create a better wireless internet experience throughout the building, more printers, scanners and other computer peripherals.
Why Do We Need A Renovated Main Library?
Aging Infrastructure – The last addition to the current library was in 1995 (25 years ago). We have had to repair the structural steel in parts of the building, repair and/or replace multiple HVAC systems, and replace roofs and the boiler. Windows and doors currently need replacing. The wiring – including the computer cabling/network backbone in the building – must be replaced. (Link to Facilty Report Here)
Asbestos Abatement – Non-friable asbestos from past roof repairs has filtered down onto the ceiling grids across the main floor, meeting room and staff business offices. As a result, no repairs to the ceiling or lights can be made until asbestos abatement occurs. (Link to Asbestos Report Here )
Fireproofing/Sprinklers – Building regulations in 1982 did not require fire sprinklers in the original building. Regulations for the 1995 addition required only a “suppression curtain sprinkler system” at the area joining the old and new building. We are not up to current code on fire suppression systems and cannot retrofit without major reconstruction.
No Insulation – The building codes in 1982 and 1995 were vastly different from today’s energy-efficient codes. No insulation is in our building walls, which leaves us with exorbitant heating/cooling costs. The UV blocking feature of the windows had a lifespan of 20 years, which has passed, contributing to heat transfer in both directions.
Lack of ADA-Compliant Bathrooms – The only ADA-compliant bathroom in the entire library is on the second floor, so customers with mobility impairments must take the elevator and cross through the children’s area to use it. The distance from the front door to this bathroom is more than 350 feet. An unrelated side-effect of this circumstance is that it is difficult for staff to limit the presence of other adults in the children’s area who may be there for unacceptable reasons.
Roof Leaks – Roof leaks near all the skylights have been repaired several times. The new plan calls for removing the large central skylight, which still leaks despite multiple repairs.
HVAC Update – Advances in HVAC technology would allow us to install a more energy-efficient system, saving costs and adding comfort. Right now there are problems with areas being too hot or too cold, which leaves customers and staff uncomfortable.
Electrical Systems Replacement – The wiring in the building (including computer cabling and the network backbone of switches) is in need of replacement. Because of the manner the 1995 addition was connected, we cannot add new computer wiring to the existing building to accommodate more internet connections or wireless routers (all conduits and circuit breakers are at full capacity). Demand for computer use in the library exceeds our electrical capability to add new outlets to accommodate more computers or equipment. We frequently have circuits overloaded and tripped by equipment.
Lighting Replaced with LED – All of our lighting fixtures are more than 20 years old. Due to our inability to access the ceiling until after asbestos abatement, we cannot replace them with the more efficient LED type. The commercial grade fixtures themselves must be changed, as some operate on “ballast” systems and many were custom fit to the library. Some lights are not in use because the bulbs are no longer made for the ballasts or fixtures. Because of this, it is difficult to see in some dark areas providing shelves and seats. Currently our electric bill exceeds $10,000 monthly, which is exorbitant in the face of LED lights costing pennies on the dollar to operate.
Separation of Age/Noise Zones – Children and teens must pass through the adult department to access the areas designed for them. The front desk – a hub of transactions, returns, checkouts and membership management – is directly across from the adult seating/work area and the information desk, where customers go for individual help with reference questions and finding materials. Due to the open floorplan, there is little space for quiet study and reading/work. Reconfiguring the foot traffic and adding glass partition walls in certain areas would mitigate the noise level so that adults would have space to work or read quietly. In addition, reference service could be offered in a quiet zone, needed to better converse with customers.
More Meeting Room Space – Existing public meeting rooms are at capacity, with organizations having to wait months or more for rooms to become available for their needs. More than 37 local civic and community service groups meet regularly at the library, in addition to the daily use of meeting rooms for library programs. There is limited meeting space in the community.
Create Quiet Study Space – The changing nature of higher education has resulted in adult students taking online college classes. This means people need small rooms for quiet study and remote test taking. Quiet study rooms are desperately needed to meet the career and continuing education needs of adults. Students studying for nursing, police, military, or technical career tests need space to study. Teens and students often need small rooms to accommodate study groups and groups working on projects for school.
Up-To-Date Technology – Our internet speed is slow due to our inability to replace the backbone of our network (switches and wiring) without shutting down all computing in the building. Our computer network was built in incremental stages as technology developed over the years. It cannot be disassembled and needs to be totally replaced. Staff and public internet traffic runs on the same network, which is a security issue. All the wiring in the current building runs through one conduit in the elevator shaft between the 1982 original structure (built on a slab) and the 1995 addition. Since this is the case, there is no way to add new wiring without major infrastructure changes (walls/ceilings).
Fix Security Cameras and Exterior Lighting – The wiring limitations also prevent us from installing additional security cameras or parking lot/perimeter building lighting. Our network, which is already at capacity, cannot accommodate wireless cameras. As a result, our existing network cannot handle more cameras, which are needed to provide adequate security coverage of public areas of the library and parking lot.
Can’t We Just Expand the Existing Parking Lot?
No, we don’t own the lot. A private company, William Floyd Plaza Associates, owns it and they are not willing to sell it to the library. There is also no other contiguous land for sale. A plan that adds two satellite branches at either end of the community will help alleviate the parking issues at the main library. However, in the end, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the parking is if the main library is closed due to lack of infrastructure repairs and upgrades.
Why Do We Need Computers at the Library When People Do Everything from Their Cell Phones Now?
Cell phones may be a convenient way to check email or look up a quick fact, but phones are not adequate for all the real-world information needs of most people. Applying for online jobs, accessing government benefits and programs (e.g., social security, disability, Medicare, DMV, tax forms, town and county government forms and permits), or properly signing and filling out legal filings simply cannot be accomplished on a cell phone.
Most government forms are now accessible only online, creating a quandary for those who need to access crucial information. It is difficult to read and fill out a complex, multi-page form on a screen the size of a deck of cards. It is equally as challenging to type in detailed information accurately on a tiny cell phone keyboard while referring back and forth to a stack of paper documents. Consider the security risk of revealing personal data, such as bank information, social security numbers and health information, on the open cell phone network.
Access to technology for library users is critically important because not everyone in the community possesses a home computer and internet access. Nor does everyone have the luxury of having access to a desktop computer at work on which they may also accomplish personal business. With monthly rates for home internet use running upwards of $60 per month, and the price of even a basic laptop computer at $300, families may choose to save money and use their cell phones for web access through public internet Wi-Fi at places such as coffee shops, fast food restaurants, parks, and the library.
Job-related activities such as taking online certifications and courses (e.g., online CPR and first-aid certification renewal or continuing education courses for teachers, firefighters, police, civil servants, or health care workers) require laptop or desktop computers with a full keyboard, large monitor and the capability to upload images, scan documents, and handle complex form-based websites while securely protecting personal data. Suffolk County has only one employment center in Hauppauge with computers to use for job-related purposes.
For schoolchildren, the latest educational technology compatible with their school curriculum includes computers capable of accessing educational software online, doing online presentations, 3D printing and modeling, coding, and graphic design.
For all ages, it is necessary to have access to an internet network capable of handling simultaneous users streaming content, such as cloud-based software for college or continuing education classes, audiobooks, podcasts, movies, multi-player games, video sessions for people conducting video conferences, music, and podcasts.
Why Do We Need to Renovate the Library Now?
The board has been meticulously investigating all options to create the library space needed by this community since the 2007 bond to build a new library building on the current site failed. See our library history timeline to view all of the efforts to address the need for expanded library services (Link to Library History Here).
As part of this process, detailed inspections of the library building conditions were completed by engineers to determine what repairs or renovations could be made. They found material containing asbestos from prior roofing repairs in the area above the ceiling grid on the main floor, business office, and the large meeting room in 2014. (Link to the Asbestos Report Here).
While the asbestos was determined to be of the non-friable type, and as such not an immediate risk, the asbestos needs to be removed in order to access areas needing infrastructure and operational modifications.
Asbestos abatement will mean a suspension of library services for a time period during the removal process. Because the library has no secondary entrance at street level and all other areas of the library can be reached only by walking through the main floor, the library would have to close for the asbestos removal.
In addition to causing library service interruptions, the abatement project (required by New York State) and other needed repairs and modifications will come at a significant cost to the community. The logistics, cost and potential service interruption of this remediation are what prompted the board to consider building an entirely new building on land donated by Brookhaven Town at the former Links golf course in Shirley. This proposal was rejected by the community in February 2018.
Did the Community Participate in the Planning Process?
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.
Prior to the 2018 bond vote, three public “visioning” forums were held in 2015 at the high school, at which more than 100 residents participated in six-hour workshops over the course of three Saturdays.
Most recently, community leaders of civic and parent organizations, local government and schools were invited to special meetings to provide input on how to proceed with obtaining more library space. As a result of the 2019 meetings, the board members generated a list of guiding principles to aid in their decision-making process. A copy of these principles is available at ( Link to Guiding Principles Here )
The library board, administration and architect have reviewed plans at the monthly board meetings for over one year and listened to feedback from the public. Special meetings were conducted for this purpose as well. The community was notified of the meetings and encouraged to attend through the library newsletter, social media pages, newspaper ads, and direct mailings to every household.
Why Not Buy the Former Bowling Alley?
When the library board learned that the bowling alley property across the street from the library was for sale, it took immediate action to determine if the property would be appropriate for a new library building. The board commissioned a commercial appraisal that valued the property at $2 million, compared to the owner’s asking price of $3-4 million. (Link to the Appraisal of the Bowling Alley Here).
The cost of demolishing the building (approximately $400,000) would have to be added to the cost of the property. The existing bowling alley building would have to be demolished because the building as constructed cannot sustain a second story. Accordingly, a new library would need to be built. The cost of construction at the site of the current bowling alley would be the same as the cost of construction at any new site, approximately $700 per square foot. Furthermore, the site would not allow for any outdoor program/green space.
The board also hired an eminent domain attorney to investigate the option of taking the building and property for municipal usage at fair market value. This proved to be costly and time consuming.
Did You Look at the Former Staples and Shopping Center?
When the Staples on Montauk Highway remained vacant for years after the office supply store closed, it was suggested that the site – on the busiest corner of our community – would be an ideal place for the library. The library board fully investigated this option.
In 2018, the owner of the property proposed a long-term 30-year lease to the library board of up to 51,615 square feet of space spread out over three separate buildings for $25 per square feet, with a 3% increase each year. This plan would have cost the library over $1.27 million per year in rent alone, an unsustainable amount even before including the build-out costs to make the space suitable to be a public library. The owner was not interested in negotiating other terms. Nor would it entertain a short-term lease to house the library temporarily if we closed our current library building for repair. In addition to the cost, further investigations with the town led to the determination that a library serving between 700-1,000 users a day would overload its septic system capacity.
What Other Sites Were Considered?
Other properties have been proposed as space solutions for the library. The library investigated available properties with an engineer and construction manager. Most sites were either unable to meet sanitary requirements or simply not large enough to create a public facility of the size needed, including adjacent parking.
- King Kullen space in shopping center –Not available; smaller stores that have become available have insufficient space.
- South Shore Auto Works – The library had it appraised and has considered acquiring it as additional parking space for the existing building for the “right price.” However, it is not a large enough space to build on, and the street between the library and this property is a busy one.
- Liberti Building Ormond Place – The building next to Tend Coffee, while lovely and modern, is not of sufficient size to be a main library building and does not possess enough parking or sanitary capacity to satisfy library use. The cost of acquiring the building is prohibitive compared to the offer of free land/buildings from the town and school district.
- Former Manor House restaurant property – This property on Montauk Highway is not large enough to accommodate the needs of a 60,000-sq.-ft. building plus parking.
- Current Watami restaurant site – This waterfront site is not suitable for a public library due to it being in a wetlands area. Department of Environmental Conservation and sanitary requirements could never be met at the site.
- Rebuilding a smaller new building at the former Links golf course – The community voted “no” on the Links proposal. Residents of the Colony Preserve remain adamantly opposed to a public building adjacent to their residences. Feedback we received at board meetings indicated the broader community was opposed to re-visiting this location.
Why Did the Library Board Purchase the Old Mastic Beach Village Hall?
After the failed 2018 bond vote, the library board returned to the 2012 plan of closing the main building in order to remove the asbestos and renovate. To do so, the library would have to operate out of rented space for 12-16 months. One of the possible rental spaces investigated was the old Mastic Beach Village Hall on Neighborhood Road. Negotiations to rent the space turned into an opportunity to purchase the site. The board recognized that owning a material asset was a better investment for the community than paying rent to a landlord. The location would serve as temporary space during a main building closure for renovations while also possibly continuing as a permanent library annex space to expand services to the surrounding area.
The library was able to acquire the former Mastic Beach Village Hall in the summer of 2019 from a private owner, who purchased the property at auction after the village was dissolved. The village purchased the building/property at its formation from Brookhaven Town for about $540,000. The village used the building for years, and it appreciated in value during that time.
When the village was disbanded by the residents, the former village hall was sold (along with other village assets) to pay debts. John O’Loughlin, former owner of Bay Gas, paid more than $400,000 for the building/property. He also absorbed auction fees, legal fees, property taxes and maintenance on the building for a number of years. His total investment in the property was much higher than the amount he initially paid. During the time that Mr. O’Loughlin owned the property, it continued to appreciate in value.
The library retained a certified commercial real estate appraiser, whom we had used previously, to assess the value of the building. Based on an appraisal of $920,000, we entered into discussions with Mr. O’Loughlin to purchase the property. He graciously offered to sell us the building for $100,000 less than the appraisal price, as a gift to the community. The library secured the building for $820,000. (Link to Former Mastic Beach Village Hall Appraisal Here).
How Did the Little Red Schoolhouse Become a Choice for a Library Branch?
While the library board was investigating area locations to serve as a temporary base of operations while the main building closed for asbestos remediation and renovation, the William Floyd School Board presented us with the prospect of taking over the Little Red Schoolhouse and its adjoining acreage as a library annex.
The school district informed us that the building was nearing the end of its useful life and beyond repair.
With that in mind, we explored whether the schoolhouse was of significant historical importance such that it might qualify for restoration grants. We hoped that we might be able to save the Little Red Schoolhouse and create a library annex in the restored building. Unfortunately, the Little Red Schoolhouse does not qualify for restoration grants.
The library then researched the feasibility of restoring the Little Red Schoolhouse to its former status without a knockdown and rebuild. According to architects and construction management professionals, there are significant costs and challenges associated with a possible restoration, considerably more than the costs of constructing a brand new, state-of-the-art facility.
We then worked up a plan for a brand new building on that site constructed in the image and likeness of the original Little Red Schoolhouse, maintaining its quaint features and honoring the fond memories that residents hold near and dear to their hearts. This is the proposal that the library board decided to present to the community.
As you can see in the proposed rendering created by of H2M Architects, the proposal replicates the look of the Little Red Schoolhouse but in a new state-of-the-art facility adjacent to the existing LRS.
This building – the New Little Red Schoolhouse – is envisioned as a place to create new memories with our children and grandchildren, to be enjoyed by generations to come.
Will the Existing Little Red Schoolhouse Be Saved?
Upon passage of the bond vote, the library trustees will work with community leaders to save the Little Red Schoolhouse (LRS).
The cost to renovate and restore the LRS is estimated at $2 million. The library trustees are committed to spending $1 million, from operational savings, for this project. The balance would be sought from community partners such as government grants and civic fundraising.
This would allow Colonial Youth and Family Services to continue to operate out of the LRS via a long-term lease with the library. It would also allow the library to host events, programs, and community meetings at the LRS on evenings and weekends.
A new and much-needed Moriches branch would be constructed adjacent to the LRS, with the possibility of connecting the entrances. The 7,000-square-foot branch’ appearance would be architecturally consistent with that of the LRS. It would serve as a valuable, permanent Library facility easily accessible to residents living near this portion of our geographically broad service area.
Why Have Two Branches?
The library board listened to the concerns of local residents who have repeatedly said that getting to the main library at 407 William Floyd Parkway is very difficult for those who live in some areas of the community. Mastic, Mastic Beach, Moriches and Shirley are spread out over a six-mile-wide area with excessive traffic on the few main roads leading in to and out of the community our 56,000 residents call home.
Residents in Mastic Beach have expressed frustration at not being able to walk or ride bikes to a library near their homes. A high proportion of senior citizens and families with children in Mastic Beach use public transportation for their travel needs. A library branch on Neighborhood Road will provide a better opportunity for Mastic Beach residents to obtain the library services they need.
For residents in Moriches and those on or north of Montauk Highway and Sunrise Highway, coming down William Floyd Parkway and over the train crossing entails maneuvering through innumerable intersections with traffic lights on a frequently congested roadway. A Moriches library branch would be easily accessible from the Sunrise Highway Service Road and Barnes Road, making it a more convenient choice for many residents on the northern and eastern parts of our community.
Where Will the Main Library and Branches Be Located?
- The main library will remain at the current location at 407 William Floyd Parkway, Shirley.
- The Mastic Beach branch will be at 369 Neighborhood Road, Mastic Beach (former site of the Mastic Beach Village Hall). This annex will be approximately 7,000 square feet with almost 50 parking spaces.
- The Moriches branch will be approximately 7,000 square feet on Montauk Highway in Moriches, near the current site of the Little Red Schoolhouse. This branch will have approximately 50 parking spaces.
What Will a Renovated Main Library Offer?
- ADA-compliant restrooms for public and staff
- Expanded meeting room spaces for more programs and community use
- Program rooms in each department
- Quiet reading areas
- Dedicated study rooms for individuals and groups
- Computer labs and makerspaces featuring technology, including 3D printers, virtual reality, and coding/robotics
- Updated indoor performance space with a full stage
- State-of-the-art technology infrastructure to support computer labs and high-speed internet
- Automated self-return/sorting of items to save costs
- Added and improved security cameras
- IP phones; new audio/video systems in meeting rooms; teleconference systems; assistive listening devices; charging stations for devices
- Expanded public seating in every department
- Lounge area to use laptops/charge devices
- Archival room for safe storage of important local history collections
- Plenty of space for book and media collections
How Will the Main Library Experience Improve for Adults and Seniors?
Quiet space and more access to educational programs – These are the main priorities for adults using the library. Time and again customers tell us that they need more quiet spaces to work and study, and that they wish there were more sessions of (or more access to) educational programs for adults, ranging from chair yoga to cooking classes to courses on prepping for the high school equivalency exam. Renovating the main building will provide more meeting rooms to conduct these programs. We will be adding five meeting rooms in the renovation plan, thus expanding our total available meeting room space to nine rooms of various sizes.
How Will the Renovation Do This?
Reconfiguring the entrance and lobby – 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 a hub of transactions and phone conversations.
Repurposing staff offices into meeting rooms – Staff offices will be repurposed into meeting rooms, program spaces and study spaces for our customers. This will provide at least 5 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.
Will a Newly Renovated Library Building Save Money on Operating Costs?
The installation of the latest HVAC systems, LED lighting, new windows and insulation will decrease the ongoing utilities cost to the main building significantly.
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.
What Will the Mastic Beach Branch Offer?
Mastic Beach Branch – 7,000 square feet of public space, 50 parking spaces, outdoor program space, and a one-acre library park across the street.
The Mastic Beach branch will offer a streamlined and convenient library experience for our local residents on Neighborhood Road on one level 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 will be housed in the building, while 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, 12 computers, and 3 conference rooms suitable for 6-10 people per room. The children and teen area will have plenty of tables and seating for students to do homework or study. There will be at least 8 computers to use. A small meeting room that can house 12-18 people will be dedicated for children and teen use and can be adjusted in size with moveable walls.
A special feature of the Mastic Beach branch is an outdoor area with possible use for children’s’ programming. A small fenced-in area will be used for seasonal story times, active and nature programs, enriching the library experience for families. 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 Blvd, Centereach, or online at www.natureexplorium.org to gain an idea of 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 & 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 (https://www.longwoodlibrary.org/using-library/plan-your-visit/spaces-kids-teens). A similar outdoor program space would be possible at the Moriches annex as well.
Lastly, the library is working with Suffolk County to acquire a small parcel of land directly across the street from the Mastic Beach branch, at no cost to taxpayers. This property was seized by the county for nonpayment of property taxes. A long-term lease from the county at a nominal cost per year is being proposed. If the arrangement does not come to fruition, we will not acquire it.
If the land is acquired at no cost to the taxpayers, the resulting Mastic Beach Library Garden would be a space where seasonal outdoor performances (such as concerts), children’s activities, and programs could be held. It would 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 https://www.sachemlibrary.org/about/insideout/.
If the Bond Passes, What Will It Cost to Operate Three Buildings?
The projected annual operating cost for each annex 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 includes the cost to operate the Mastic Beach branch.
The anticipated retirement of several senior level staff members over the next two years will provide available operating savings, which will be used to defray the costs of operating in three locations.
If the Bond Passes, Will All Construction Work Be Publicly Bid?
Yes, all construction work will be publicly bid, in compliance with New York State law.
If the Bond Passes, Will I Be Able To Bid on the Work if I Am a Local Resident in the Building Trade(s)?
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.
If the Bond Passes, Where Will the Bids Be Advertised?
Bids for the construction project will be advertised in local newspapers and will be cited on the library website.
How Will the Library Projects Be Paid For?
In addition to the funds from the proposed bond referendum vote, the library will pursue
numerous fundraising initiatives, apply for various government aid and grants, and secure donations through a Library Foundation. The library is also committed to contributing $4 million from its capital reserve fund to reduce the cost even further.
How Much Will the Library Projects Cost?
Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Library Alteration $16,351,658.00
Mastic Beach Branch Addition & Alteration $ 4,502,426.00
Moriches Branch New Building $ 5,836,880.00
Total Project Cost $26,690,964.00
Less 4 Million Library Capital – $4,000,000 .00
Total Bond Amount $22,690,964.00
Residents are being requested to approve the issuance of up to $22,690,964 bond(s) to finance a portion of the cost of the proposed project. By law this amount cannot be increased after the vote, nor can the Library request additional funding on the project if the vote passes. 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 library is committed to contributing $4 million from its capital reserves to fund the balance of the cost.
This amount is $10,900,000 less than the amount of the proposed 2018 bond, which failed. Interest rates on bonds are very favorable currently; it is a good time to borrow.
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
*Library contribution to offset the cost of the Mastic Beach Satellite Branch
Why Are the Per-Square-Foot Construction Costs So Much Higher Than I Would Pay for Work on My House?
- Houses are built of wood, which is a fraction of the cost of the concrete, masonry and steel used for public buildings.
- Prevailing wage labor rates can be as much as 75 percent more expensive than in private sector building. It varies by trade.
- Insurance requirements are higher on commercial projects.
- Equipment used to build commercial/governmental buildings is much more complex and expensive than involved 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 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 respect these schedules.
An example of a recent NYS prevailing wage schedule can be found here:
How Can I Find Out What It Will Cost Me?
The cost of the bond(s) is specific to each homeowner based on the assessed value of your home. You can find your assessed value (AV) on your most recent property tax bill.
You may also bring your tax bill to the library, and we will help you determine your cost.
To see what your assessed value is, visit https://apps.brookhavenny.gov/Online-Services/Assessor/Assessment-Roll and type in your property address. It will show you a table with the market rate estimated value of your home and your assessed valuation.
Exactly 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.
It Seems That Other Nearby Libraries Were Able to Expand at a Lower Cost. How Were They Able to Do This?
Center Moriches Library added a 4,671-square-foot addition along the front/south elevation. The existing library was not renovated. Construction began in 2012 and was paid for entirely with library reserves. A separate, 1,671-square-foot children’s activity room was added to the back/north side of the existing library, and a new sprinkler system was added, for a total of 6,342 additional square feet. The library owned the land surrounding the building; they had no land acquisition costs and did not need to consider moving their facility.
Longwood Library owned sufficient land to support an expansion project. Therefore – as with Center Moriches – there were no land acquisition costs, and they also did not have to contemplate moving the facility. Longwood built 15,000 square feet of new space and renovated the existing building. The total bond was $17,896,347, which included site work, furniture, fixtures and equipment, professional fees and more. Homes assessed in the Longwood School District at $2,500 were projected to result in a $65.00-per-year tax increase. The vote was held in 2012. We would have to factor in 5% cost escalation each year to their costs to compare.
We are proposing a full renovation to our existing 45,000-square-foot library, a renovation and expansion of the Mastic Beach Annex and a 7,000-square-foot new building in Moriches. We believe our projected costs are in line with Longwood Library’s per-square-foot costs after factoring in cost escalation to the point in time we will be in construction (approximately 12-18 months after a successful referendum).
What Will I Get for My Money if the Bond Passes?
A state-of-the art main library and two annexes that are sufficient to meet the needs of our community’s 56,000 residents for years to come; expansive meeting room spaces, including beautiful new outdoor spaces to meet all of our varied programming uses (including a children’s garden); space for community groups to meet; ample, clean, and ADA-compliant restrooms; plentiful quiet spaces to read or study; additional computers and state-of-the-art technology 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); a safer library experience with updated security cameras and more lighting in the parking lot; more parking (the two annexes offer 50 parking spaces each); and more meeting rooms, absorbing the burden from the main building (possessing the only free public meeting rooms available in the district).
In addition, a newly renovated library and two new annexes (set in locations that will truly serve the residents in all corners of our large district) will serve as a source of pride for the entire community. Our new, modern facilities will also enhance real estate values.
How Do I Register to Vote?
In order to vote on the Mastics–Moriches–Shirley Community Library bond, residents must be registered. Voter eligibility requires that you be 1) a United States citizen; 2) at least 18 years of age; 3) a school district resident for at least 30 days; 4) a registered voter with the William Floyd School District Board of Registry or with the Suffolk County Board of Elections.
Click here to find out more.
Are Eastport-South Manor Residents Eligible to Vote?
Residents of the Eastport-South Manor School District will not be able to vote on the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library building proposition, nor will their taxes be impacted should the referendum pass. Debt service is not included within the formula used to establish contract rates for residents of communities without library districts. Questions may be directed to Kevin Verbesey, Director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, at 631-286-1600.
When and Where Do I Vote?
Voting on the bond referendum will take place on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library located at 407 William Floyd Parkway, Shirley. Polls will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
How Do I Obtain An Absentee Ballot?
Information on absentee ballots and the procedure for registering for one will be available from the William Floyd School District Clerk’s Office. Link to Absentee Ballot Application Information Here
If the Vote Passes, When Will the New Library Open?
If the vote passes on December 10, we will enter a 12-month period of creating design documents for the annex buildings (electrical, plumbing, lighting, engineering, etc.) and putting this work out to public bid. The New York State Education Department must review and approve all design documents. Once design documents are approved, there will be approximately 12-16 months of renovation and construction at the two annexes in Mastic Beach and Moriches. Essentially the annexes will be under construction throughout 2020 and scheduled to open sometime in 2021. During this time the current facility will remain open for full service to our customers.
When the annex buildings are complete, the main library will be closed for approximately 12-16 months starting in 2021. Library services will be provided from our annex locations and other community sites. Main library construction will be completed in late 2022, with an opening scheduled for early 2023. At that point, construction and renovation will be complete on all three buildings; the buildings will be operational and open to the public.
What if I have more questions?
Feel free to contact the library director, Kerri Rosalia, at [email protected] or 631-399-1511, x200.