JJML Eyes Plan for Park Parcel

Posted on 29 January 2010

The John Jermain Memorial Library board of trustees purchased a triangle-shaped piece of land next to Mashashimuet Park in 2002 with the hope they might one day expand library services to a second Sag Harbor library at the park. With the board, and community, settled on an on-site expansion of services at JJML’s historic Main Street address, the board has begun discussions about the future of the residential lot and cottage, considering the possibility of seeking Community Preservation Funds to add parkland to the area, and even affordable housing.

During a JJML board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, January 20 newly elected president Chris Leonard broached the subject, although the board tabled the matter for the timing being. According to JJML Director Catherine Creedon, the board has time to make decisions about the property as it is leaving the cottage space available to a Jefferson Street neighbor should she feel future construction at the library could become a nuisance.

However, the board has discussed possible options for the property. Through the Mashashimuet Park Board they could seek to have the Town of Southampton, with the aid of the Village of Sag Harbor, purchase the land through Community Preservation Funds (CPF), a two percent real estate transfer tax used for historic preservation, and the purchase of open space and parkland.

The library also has a patron, said Creedon, who brought up the possibility of creating workforce housing on the property, either with a municipality or an organization like Habitat for Humanity.

However, in deference to their Jefferson Street neighbor and out of respect for the current tenants of the cottage who have a lease through early fall, Creedon said nothing will be decided about the park parcel until that time.

Board member Carl Peterson, who was also elected vice president during Wednesday night’s meeting, is on the park board, said Creedon and that body has also had discussions about the future of 425 Main Street.

“The park board and the library have a nice, shared history,” said Creedon.

Moving towards review by the Sag Harbor Village boards for the restoration and expansion of JJML, Creedon announced on Wednesday that the project’s architects Herbert Newman Partners has won the bid to design the Slover Memorial Library in Norfolk Virginia. The cost of construction on that facility, which will serve as Norfolk, Virginia’s main library, is estimated at $40 million, dwarfing the price and size of the nearly $10 million expansion and restoration at JJML.

“It’s not only an affirmation,” said Creedon. “The Slover project is similar to ours, although in a larger community.”

Creedon added she believed Newman designing that project at the same time as JJML will create a positive exchange of ideas given their similarities.

In other library news, the board began talks about how, and if, to fill a vacancy on the board of trustees following Theresa “Tippy” Ameres’s decision to leave the board in December. According to Creedon, Ameres had wanted to leave the board over a year ago, but was urged to stay on through the successful building referendum.

“We felt she was so instrumental in the pre-referendum work that we asked her to stay on through 2009,” said Creedon. “She is a great consensus builder.”

The board has the ability to appoint someone to fill the remainder of her two-year term or can wait until the next round of trustee elections. It can also decide not to fill the seat at all.

According to Creedon, JJML’s charter calls for not more than 25 people on its board, no less than seven members.

Lastly, Creedon asked the board to establish a new committee as a part of the reorganizational meeting – a long range planning committee.

“I want to make sure all of us remember that as compelling as the building project is, we have a commitment to the community that extends well beyond that project and I want to make sure we do not lose sight of that,” said Creedon.

Creedon and Carol Williams will comprise that committee.

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