At John Jermain, It’s Restoration First, Then Expansion

Posted on 24 July 2009

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The John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) Board of Trustees is hoping to complete repairs on the exterior of the historic building before moving forward with an expansion project, according to JJML director Catherine Creedon.

During a trustees meeting on Wednesday, July 15, Creedon said the roughly 34-month, $10-million renovation, restoration and expansion of JJML approved by Sag Harbor School District voters in June, would be broken up into two projects. Sandpebble Builders, the library’s construction managers and cost estimators, have predicted it will take some 14 months to obtain permits from the Village of Sag Harbor for the whole of the project, but advised Creedon to seek a separate building permit for exterior repairs to JJML, specifically to re-point the brick façade and repair the limestone cornice. The library is currently shrouded in scaffolding to protect patrons from the potential of falling masonry. 

According to Creedon, having these repairs done prior to construction of the expansion will ensure the existing building is stable enough to withstand the large construction project.

 “We are shooting for fall 2010 to break ground on the new building,” said Creedon, noting it will be the library’s 100th anniversary and she enjoyed the symmetry of celebrating that milestone along with the expansion of the new library wing, expected to almost double the size of JJML.

It is her hope, added Creedon, that the entire project will be completed by the spring of 2012.

In the next few months, said Creedon, the project will focus primarily on the design of the new addition, which will be created by Newman Architects, as well as plans for the renovation of the current building, the permitting process, and securing additional funds through grants, loans and donations to help buoy the $10 million project.

 “In the past two weeks I have applied for the initial State Historic Preservation Office Review, spoken to [New York State Assemblyman] Fred Thiele’s office to get support for our Economic Stimulus Fund application and begun work on the State Library Construction Grant application,” said Creedon in her report to the trustees.

One large donation already received is from The Friends of the Library who gifted $100,000 to the library last week following their annual House Tour fundraiser, which Creedon said earned closer to $22,000 this year.

 “I am more than grateful for the work of Gloria Brown, president and Diane Schiavoni, treasurer, and the rest of the members of this organization for their support,” said Creedon. “And I’d like to make special mention of Nada Barry, who, in selling tickets at her Wharf Shop assures the success of this annual event.”

According to Creedon, the Friends’ gift enables the library to move forward with the building project while they are waiting for loans to be secured.

The timing of the building project coincides with continued increases in JJML’s circulation. According to Creedon, the library is up 23 percent over June of 2008, and up 40 percent from two years ago.

“While some of the increase can be attributed to the economy, we have also seen many first-time patrons who have come to the library for cards because of the increased visibility of the library throughout the pre-referendum period,” said Creedon, who said roughly 67 new cards were handed out in June. “I have to admit, the rain helped our numbers a bit.”

While the library has continued to be closed on Sundays in the summer, Creedon said given the increase in use by residents she would like to keep the library open seven-days-a-week next summer.

In other library news, board president Diane Gaites announced the library’s annual budget vote will be held on September 22 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at JJML. District residents will vote on a proposed $1,068,800 budget for 2010, which represents a 4.9 percent increase. Two seats are up for election on the board, with Chris Leonard planning on seeking re-election and Gaites bowing out.

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