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More Bumps in the Road for John Jermain Memorial Library

Posted on 30 July 2010

By Kathryn G. Menu

Members of the John Jermain Memorial Library board of Trustees have found themselves on a continuously rocky path as they move through the planning process for the expansion and renovation of Sag Harbor’s historic library, with village planners finding more questions than answers within the library’s most recent submission to the village planning board.

It was revealed earlier this month that the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees would deny a request by the library to extend the village sewer line to its Main Street building to accommodate the proposed 7, 725 square-foot, three-story modern expansion. And now, following Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting, the library will have to go back to the drawing board in an effort to supply the planning board with more information on how to fit an on-site sanitary system below an already tiny parcel of land.

The library is in the beginnings of its environmental review with the planning board, having submitted its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) earlier this month, just as trustees agreed extending the sewer district was not in the village’s best interest.

On Tuesday, Sag Harbor Village Planning Consultant Richard Warren said he met with the library’s planner and attorney — David Emilita and Gilbert Flannagan — late last week to go over additional information the board will need to deem the DEIS complete, moving the library one step closer to final approval.

In addition to specific details about the on-site sanitary system, Warren said he would also like to see a document from adjacent property owner Samuel Glass, who owns the former Morpurgo residence on Union Street, approving the library’s plan to remove trees from his property.

According to Creedon, the root system from several Norway maples on the Glass property have compromised a brick wall separating the properties and will need to come down. Creedon said she has spoken with Glass, but will reach out to get approval in writing.

Creedon said the village has also asked for an expanded vibration study, similar to the one conducted for the Bulova Watchcase Factory condo project — another large project for the village surrounded, in part, by historic residences. Parking, noise impacts, how the library will reach its goal of Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) and small clarifications and details also need to be addressed, said Creedon.

Warren said short-term construction impacts also need to be explored.

“This is a tight piece of property with a lot of activity,” he said.

Village attorney Anthony Tohill said in looking at short-term impacts, the library should detail how it plans to control noise during construction, the arrival and departure of construction crews and where they will park.

Creedon said it is her hope the library will be able to compile the information in time for the August meeting, when she also hopes the board will consider waiving site plan approval for their temporary space at 34 Bay Street. That, she said, would enable the library to move out of its space this fall, and begin the restoration of JJML.

On Tuesday night, Warren said he had a few additional questions about that application, primarily regarding parking, which library officials said they would address before next month’s meeting.

The next Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting is scheduled for August 24 at 5:30 p.m.

On Wednesday morning, Creedon said she was grateful for the work of village officials on the library’s application, albeit juggling financing for the project continues to remain a difficult task while the library waits to complete its environmental review — the step required for the library board to access its nearly $10 million in referendum monies.

With that in mind, last week, at a library board of trustees meeting, Creedon announced with pride that the Friends of the John Jermain Memorial Library raised $21,000 through its annual house tour.

“The Friends use money from this and their other fundraisers to fully subsidize all of our adult and children’s programming, including our art exhibits and the summer reading club,” said Creedon. “This year Susann Farrell, children’s librarian, has registered more than 250 participants, making our second floor a very lively place.  I’ve given up wearing high heels, at least on rainy days, for fear of impaling someone while navigating my way through a beautiful and boisterous sea of wall-to-wall kids.”

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