By Kathy Kahn
The Rose Library held a public information session on Tuesday, October 17 on its proposal from East Main Street into the vacant high school on East Main Street, but only The Rockland County Times showed up for it.
There to hear the public’s questions, RCT instead interviewed Director James Mahoney and three library trustees, eager to talk about the Tuesday, November 7 referendum. If approved, it would increase Rose Library’s budget from its current $250,000 a year to $976,000 a year and remain at the new budget amount every year thereafter. (Rose Library also receives $200,000 from the North Rockland School District.)
“We’ve run out of room,” said Mahoney. “We don’t have enough space to accommodate the community’s needs, particularly our children and senior population.” Library trustee Ted Needleman added, “A library is a place to interact in. We hope our new library building will bring new business into town.”
Jennifer Lima, Library Board of Trustees President, said the purchase of the town’s historic first high school would be a plus for the community and its future. “The public has to know what our plans are. We want to use the new library for Boy/Girl Scouts, public meeting rooms and space to offer new programs. Right now, we can’t accommodate the needs of the community.
“The former high school has 12,000 square feet of space, and Rose Library has outgrown its 3,500 square feet,” she continued. “We’ve run out of room to provide our residents with computers, tutoring space and have to limit the programs we offer, including ESL (English as Second Language). If the referendum is approved, we’re sure the new library will become a centerpiece for Stony Point.”
Lima said it’s already in contract with the former school’s owner “on contingency,” she said. “If the referendum fails, we get our deposit back. Our timeline to move Rose to the old high school is approximately 18 months and complete the total renovation in four years.”
“We’ve also taken several bids for the work that needs to be done,” she added. “If the referendum passes, we would pay our mortgage and our contractors with the additional funding. We’d also be able to plan for the future with the additional funding that would come in every year. A library is much more than a place for books. It’s a place for the community to come together for many activities.”
The Town Board had many questions for Rose Library trustees at its meeting on October 10. Councilman Tom Basile wanted to know if the Library had asked for a zoning change (the high school is zoned for commercial use) or had gone before the Planning Board for review. Basile also asked if Rose Library, which had 27,286 visitors in 2016, warranted a building nearly four times its size considering the number of people who used it.
Supervisor Jim Monaghan asked why the library has not considered buying the old ambulance building next to the current library, saying it would not have to relocate the library and would also give the Ambulance Corps an opportunity to sell its old building to help with funding for its new one.
“That building needs too much remediation,” said Mahoney at the October 17 meeting with The Rockland Times. “It has asbestos issues, it would have to be entirely gutted and there would still be no additional parking. Right now, we have a small parking lot across the street from our library, [which is] not big enough to accommodate our needs. The high school building is gutted and its interior is renovation ready.”
Rose Library plans to have another information meeting on Saturday, October 21 and hopes the public will turn out for it. Decision day will be Tuesday, November 7. Hopefully, the public will take Rose Library up on its offer before the referendum is voted on.