Westhampton Free Library Schedules Pair Of Public Hearings To Discuss Renovation Options

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Public hearings have been scheduled for early next year on the proposed million-dollar renovation of a section of the Westhampton Free Library in Westhampton Beach, giving residents two opportunities to offer their input or share concerns over the remodeling.

Library district residents will be able to chime in on the plan to renovate part of the second floor of the Library Avenue building on Wednesday, January 11, 2017, and then again on Wednesday, February 15, 2017. Both meetings, which will feature representatives of the library board and H2M Engineering, the Melville company hired in October to oversee the project, start at 6 p.m. at the library.

Previously, library board members explained that they want to finish the estimated 2,750-square-foot area, known as “the attic,” that sits next to the library’s children’s room and is currently used for storage. The area could not be finished when the $7.8 million, 14,250-square-foot opened its doors in 2010 due to financial constraints. Specifically, the library could not afford to purchase the additional Pine Barrens credits required to finish the space, prompting them to use it for the storage of library materials, including books and holiday decorations.

Board members began to revisit plans to finish the space after receiving a $1.3 million donation bequeathed to the facility in 2014 by Ann Skovek. Tentative plans call for using the money to install new flooring, a ceiling and a heating system.

However, board members have not yet decided which of two plans now being circulated would be the better option. Under the first proposal, a 827-square-foot meeting room capable of accommodating up to 42 people would be built, requiring the creation of a new hallway that would run from the room to the elevator. The second plan calls for a smaller meeting room—about half the size of the one pitched under the first proposal and capable of holding up to 25 people at once—and it would be built in space now occupied by the library’s craft room. The craft room, in turn, would be relocated to the larger storage space on the second floor.

Library officials have previously stated that they want feedback from the public on both proposals before proceeding.

Member Search Begins

The recent resignation of Westhampton Free Library Board member Jennifer Mendelson, who stepped down on November 2 for undisclosed reasons, has prompted the board to begin a search for her replacement.

Ms. Mendelson was appointed to serve on the seven-member board on October 16, 2013. She tendered her resignation on November 2, though the board did not accept the document until its meeting on November 16.

Ms. Mendelson did not return calls this week.

The board will continue operating with six members until a replacement can be found, though state regulations allow it to operate with only six people. Anyone interested in the unpaid position is encouraged to visit the library website, www.westhamptonlibrary.net, and fill out an application. Eligible candidates must be registered to vote and live in the Westhampton Beach School District.

As of earlier this week, the library had not received any applications, officials said.

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