While we respect the idea that the John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees and Newman Architects would like to give the public the opportunity to shape a new building program for Sag Harbor’s library, to a certain extent much of this discussion feels redundant.
We understand this is a relatively new firm to the process, and that the board is keeping in mind both a failed $8 million dollar referendum for a new library at Mashashimuet Park, as well as an architectural plan debuted over a year ago that was not embraced by the community. That being said, our position is that it is time to move this project forward past concepts and towards something more concrete before the kind of dialogue the board is hoping for will occur.
As a community, we have been discussing the need for more library space for years, and while there may be a few members of the community who disagree, for the most part we believe the consensus is that Sag Harbor needs library space it simply cannot accomplish solely at the current John Jermain Memorial Library. That special, historic edifice is also in need of attention – attention we would hate to see put off longer, while we have the same discussion we had five years ago about what kind of library services and programming we need and want.
We believe it is time for Newman Architects to put up a project plan and design so that the Sag Harbor community can kick it around a little bit, punch some holes in it, and likely send them back to the drawing board. This, we feel, is how the kind of dialogue the library board is seeking will truly emerge, and the public’s position on use of space and design will be heard, and loudly. Knowing the Sag Harbor community, revisions will be likely and plentiful, but we do not believe the kind of give and take needed or wanted to perfect a library plan will be heard prior to the architect’s unveiling a design or a number of designs.
In part, this belief stems from the lackluster attendance at the last library forum earlier this fall, which for the most part was attended solely by the same members of the community who attend every meeting regarding the library, and in no way represented the diverse opinions of residents in the Sag Harbor School District. While we as a newspaper have encouraged the public’s participation in this past forum, and certainly at Saturday’s discussion as well, it leaves us wondering if residents are ready to stop talking about concepts regarding the library, and ready for something more concrete.Â