The Hampton Bays Public Library Board of Directors intends to put up a bond referendum this spring asking taxpayers to pay for the current library to be demolished and a new one built in its place.
The board started soliciting opinions from hamlet residents in August and determined that the community would like to see the current library knocked down and replaced with a new two-story facility, explained Library Director Susan LaVista.
The project, previously dubbed by library officials as Plan F, is expected to cost about $13.3 million and financed with a 20-year bond. Therefore, the taxes for average hamlet residents, whose properties are assessed at $400,000, would go up by $108 per year for the life of the bond to help pay for the work.
The plan calls for a new 24,000-square-foot building to be constructed on the 1.3-acre lot. The new library would also benefit from 34 new parking spaces, upping the total number of available spots to 101.
While the new building is being constructed, the library would have to close until approximately the middle of 2019, according to preliminary estimates. During that time, officials would temporarily rent another building in the hamlet to house the library and its programming.
Ms. LaVista said in an email Friday that the board would begin reaching out to commercial property owners in January, though the referendum will not be scheduled until the spring. The board has not selected a date for the vote yet.
“After numerous meetings and reaching out to community groups, the board feels that they have a clear direction from the community,” Ms. LaVista said.
She explained that the library board is currently working on a preliminary State Environmental Quality Review Act with Southampton Town to make sure they are permitted to construct the new, bigger building there. Once that process is finished, the board will schedule a referendum vote to ask taxpayers if they would like to see, and pay for, the new facility.
The library board started asking the community about possible renovations to the facility in April. At that meeting, the board teamed up with Victor Canseco, owner of Sandpebble Builders in Southampton, to ask taxpayers what renovations and upgrades they would like to see in the library. Some of the most coveted amenities that those in attendance wanted included additional space for programs and staff offices, as well as an upgraded HVAC system and additional parking.
After the meeting Mr. Canseco and the board looked at what the taxpayers would like to see done and created seven different plans using those suggestions. The plans ranged in cost from $1 million, to complete minor fixes, to $14.4 million, which called for selling the Ponquogue Avenue building and constructing a new library elsewhere in the hamlet. The plan going up for a referendum vote this spring was the second most expensive plan pitched, with an estimated cost of $13.3 million.
Ms. LaVista and the library board decided that the best way to choose a plan was to first hold a series of informational meetings to get feedback from those who would be paying for the upgrades. In August they held the first of three informational meetings, led by Mr. Canseco, to collect feedback. After the last meeting, held on September 3, board members said they still needed more input, so they attended the September Hampton Bays Beautification Association meeting to reach more residents. Ms. LaVista said she also met independently with other local groups, including the Hampton Bays Rotary Club, to get input from additional taxpayers before moving forward with the plan.