Skeptical town board says lack of detail means bloom is off the proposed new “Rose”
By Kathy Kahn
Rose Memorial Library’s successful Article 78 lawsuit against Stony Point will put a proposition on the November ballot to add $717,000 to its annual budget. Town Board members and residents at the October 10 meeting voiced concern over the practicality of the idea.
Library Director James Mahoney and two trustees said buying the empty former high school on Main Street would enable them to add more programs, space for a children’s library and craft room, meeting rooms for the public, install more computers and provide adequate parking. Though the school’s façade has been updated by the building’s current owner, the interior remains unchanged and the cost factor to upgrade it both physically and technologically are unknown.
Stony Point budget currently is about $255,000 annually for The Rose Library, matched by a $200,000 contribution by North Rockland School District each year. If the referendum passes in November, Stony Point will be obligated to budget $972,371 annually for Rose, which will still receive the same funding from NRSD.
Mahoney argued the Town of Haverstraw’s library is drawing Stony Point residents to use that one instead of their own. Councilman Tom Basile said Haverstraw, with its diverse population and lower income levels, gets NYS funding and grant money, something Rose Library, a 501 (3) c corporation, is not entitled to.
“We have asked you to come before the town several times to let us all know what your plans are, but this is the first time you have responded to our requests…we haven’t even had the courtesy of a phone call,” said Basile. “Now that the referendum will be on the ballot, you have an agreement with the current owner to purchase the building, but when will the people of Stony Point learn the true cost? Let the voters decide based on facts.”
Town Board members told Mahoney and his staff members the old ambulance building next to Rose Library is for sale and could be retrofitted to use for additional library space. But library board members disagreed, saying the old high school would be more beneficial to the community as a whole.
“We are talking simple math,” said Supervisor Jim Monaghan. “You’re asking residents for a 300 percent budget increase annually without knowing the true costs or conditions.”
“The Ambulance Corps has a new building, but is facing financial difficulty. It hasn’t been able to sell its old building,” added Councilman James White. How is the Rose Library going to manage buying the old high school without knowing the true cost of renovation or if they, too, will have difficulty selling its old building? Have you gone to the Zoning Board and asked for a variance? The old high school is in a commercially zoned area.”
Rose Library said it would hold an information session at the library on Tuesday, October 17, beginning at 7 p.m. The project’s website is www.stonypoint.improveourlibrary.org. Members of the Library Board of Trustees will be available to speak with the public every Saturday at the library between 10 a.m. & 5 p.m.