On January 11, 2018, the Community Library held a public meeting at the William Floyd High School on the proposed new library building. This meeting was recorded and can be viewed below. Answers to written questions submitted at the meeting can be found below.
Thursday Jan 11th Public Meeting Questions & Answers
Is grant money, State or Federal money available for the project?
The library has started a nonprofit foundation – The Mastics Moriches Shirley Community Library Foundation, Inc. – to raise private donations to contribute to the cost of the project. We are in the process of obtaining Federal IRS tax exempt status and expect to finalize this in a few months. (Foundations have been used by many libraries to offset building and operating costs. The foundation will continue to exist for the MMSCL even when the building project has been completed.)
There are no Federal funds specifically for library construction, however, once the bond proposal is approved we can offset some costs by applying for NYS construction aide, which is available every year for library projects in the “shovel ready” stage statewide. Awards per library range from a few thousand dollars up to $200,000. While it is a small amount, it is significant and could cover the cost of building certain features of the new building such as the automated return system, the children’s nature classroom, or the public outdoor performance space for example.
We will also realize some utilities rebates by installing solar and using all LED lighting.
Public transportation to the new site? Parking?
Suffolk County is aware of the project and we will be taking the necessary steps to make sure a public transit plan is in place to serve the new building. By law, public bus service must be made available at the new site because the library is a public space. Currently, there are already stops on Mastic Road and once roads are built the nearest cross-street from Mastic Rd. is Lincoln Avenue. Colony Preserve Drive is also a public road, and once it is connected there will also be transportation access to the site from William Floyd Parkway.
Parking will be increased from 37 spaces at the current building to approximately 190 spaces at the new building. Students will be able to walk from the William Floyd School campus to the new site without crossing a public street. There will also be an increase in Handicapped spaces as well as a covered walkway so that patrons will be out of the elements when walking into the library.
How far do you have to walk from the new parking lot to the new building?
Excluding ADA spaces, closest space is 30 second walk to entry door (at average pace) to 90 seconds for the furthest space.
$33 million is too expensive, why does it cost so much? Why are we only gaining about 5,000 sq. ft. more than the current building?
Residents are being asked to invest in a 33.5 million dollar 30 year bond, which, for the average homeowner (based on a $2,500 assessed valuation), is an estimated $12 per month; or an estimated $144 per year. The project has been carefully planned to meet the needs of our approximately 56,000 residents at a cost that is on par with new library construction costs nationwide and on Long Island. Adjusted for the NY market, the cost per sq. ft. of a new public building is $721 . The proposed building will provide 51,000 sq. feet of interior space. The project cost includes the cost of the roads and bringing utilities into the site.
The library is a municipal agency and due to the Taylor law, the project must go out to public bid and we must pay prevailing wage rates for the construction. The library is contributing $5 million in capital funds to the total cost of the project. It is anticipated that the future sale of the existing building will allow the bond to be prepaid with an estimated $4 million once the building is sold. The Library Board has made a commitment to using these funds to lessen the burden to taxpayers.
There are many advantages to a new building over the existing, actual size is but a small part of this: mathematically, while the new building is 5,000 sq. ft. larger than the existing one, the effective increase in size is at least double that, because of the large loss in space created by the multiple levels, stairwells, elevators, etc. in the current building. The proposed building is on one level, making the space entirely flexible. For example, if Teen services needs more space and Adult needs less space in the future, interiors can be reapportioned easily.
The design committee worked with members of the community, design professionals, the library board and library staff to insure that the total project cost stayed at less than $16 per month for the average taxpayer. This was the amount identified by the Envision meeting participants (through anonymous voting) as a reasonable cost for the project to be planned for a public referendum. In fact, several other designs with more space were determined to be too costly before we finalized the current plan for a 51,000 sq. ft. single story building.
How will operating costs be affected in new building? Staff, utilities, annual budget etc? Projected increase in staff?
Significant cost savings in operations will be realized by incorporating energy efficient technologies such as window placement for natural daylight, geothermal heating and cooling, solar and LED lighting. While these technologies cost more upfront, they provide significant ongoing savings on utilities.
There is no increase in staff projected for the immediate future, and the current staff collective bargaining agreement with CSEA runs through June 30, 2019 so no additional increase in unit member salaries is projected due to the building project. Over the past 5 years, the library has realized a significant cost savings in full time staff salaries due to retirements of senior level staff.
The design of the new building will use open space layout concepts and new digital security technology to allow staff to monitor larger areas than they are presently able to. The addition of program rooms in each department and secure, accessible public spaces is intended to allow the library to deliver more staff-directed programming on site, plus save on transportation costs and potential liability. Currently the library uses a van to transport materials offsite to community locations because we do not have enough room to run these programs on site.
The design of the building, how did you arrive at it and what about using colonial style architecture?
The design committee, which included design professionals plus board members, staff, and members of the public met many times since the last Envision meeting in 2015 to design a project that met with the goals identified in the Envision process. The top ten goals were listed in the Envision (Envision workshop report #2 page 7):
- Parking – ample and easily accessible
- Flexible space
- IT – expanded computer spaces and improvements
- Improved infrastructure/utility revamp
- Expanded internal space
- Less noise
- More meeting rooms
- Adequate bathroom facilities
- Green Building – LEED Certified
Recognizing the unique historical character of our community was discussed at length. The design committee agreed that the energy efficiency and space needs in a new building were at odds with the constraints of traditional colonial architecture. Design features that will incorporate and recognize our rich history include a colonnade in the outdoor community performance space that can feature statues or busts of community heroes such as General William Floyd, Tangier Smith and William Paca. Original wood beams and planking has been donated to the library by the Mastic Peninsula Historical Society from the Woodhull Estate in Mastic Beach. The estate no longer exists, but the wood is planned to be incorporated into the interior design of a new Local History Collection room in the new library.
Why not use the old Bowling Alley which is for sale across the street from the library?
When the Library Board learned that the bowling alley property across the street from the Library was for sale, they took immediate action to determine if the property would be appropriate for a new Library.
In addition to the cost of the property ($3-4 Million), the existing bowling alley building would have to be demolished at a cost of approximately $400,000 dollars. The building as constructed cannot sustain a second story. Also, the site would not allow for any outdoor programs or green space. Then a new Library would need to be constructed on the site. The cost of construction at the site of the current bowling alley would be the same as the cost of construction at the proposed site, $721.00 per square foot.
In contrast, the property for the new Library is free of charge; the site is vacant, so there will not be any demolition costs incurred and the new building can be built to the specific needs of a 21st century library; the five acre site provides adequate space for outdoor activities and a beautiful green space and greatly improved parking (190+ spots).
What are the costs and implications of renovating the current building if the bond doesn’t pass?
A project for renovating the existing building would follow this approximate timeline: if the bond doesn’t pass, then there will need to be another renovation plan developed and another bond vote held to pay for it. Without that there would be no renovation of the existing building. The cost in today’s dollars would at least $22 million dollars, depending on whether the library were to be totally shut down for the renovation or partially closed while the work was phased in over a number of years. Phasing would both increase the cost of the project as well as create a noise, debris, and parking issue for several years. If the library was to totally shut down to renovate, the cost of renting temporary space at this time is unknown, and cannot be included in the cost of a bond to renovate the building as rental costs are operating costs, not construction costs.
Why wasn’t asbestos removal done in the last library renovation?
While no asbestos containing materials were supposedly used during the last renovation of the interior in 1995, the theory is that the non-friable asbestos entered the building when the roofing was removed and replaced over the western section of the building in 2007. The material entered through the fastener holes in the metal deck which forms the roof structure. Non-friable asbestos was identified in an inspection done in 2014; that report can be found here.
Why weren’t fire sprinklers installed in the library in the last renovation?
In 1995, when the last addition was made to the library, building code apparently only required a “fire curtain” type sprinkler system intended to suppress fire spreading from the new building addition to the old building. The limited system essentially is a line of sprinklers located in the Atrium area of the library aimed at the stairwells leading down to the lower level where the Teen department is presently located. It is assumed that retrofitting the original library building built in 1974 with sprinklers was deemed to be too costly at the time the 1995 renovation and addition was approved.