Tag Archive | "John Jermain Memorial Library"

Libraries Receive Grants

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New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. , the chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Libraries and Education Technology, announced this week that the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor, the East Hampton Library, and the Montauk Library had received grants totaling $210,107.

The John Jermain Memorial Library received $75,054 to help with its ongoing renovation project, while East Hampton will receive $75,053 for its children’s addition project. Montauk will receive $60,000 for an emergency generator project.

The grant funds are from $14 million in capital funds for public library construction provided in the 2013 state budget.

“With libraries now experiencing remarkable increases in use, and with budget cuts creating significant hardship, I am thrilled that so many of my constituents will benefit from increased library resources made possible through these state funds,” said Mr. Thiele in a press release.

Pamela Topham to Show Landscape Tapestries at Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library

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Tapestry by Pamela Topham. Courtesy John Jermain Memorial Library.

Tapestry by Pamela Topham. Courtesy John Jermain Memorial Library.

 

By Tessa Raebeck

Inspired by nature’s beauty from the shores of Accabonac Harbor to the canyons of the West, artist Pamela Topham creates tapestries of landscapes, which she will show this month at the John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor.

“I have lived most of my life in an uncommonly beautiful place of wetlands, farmland, endless sea and sky,” the artist, who lives on the East End, said in a statement. “I also travel to find other places of similar and contrasting aesthetic inspiration, in the tradition of Thomas Moran. My landscapes reflect my longtime devotion to preserving and interpreting these visual impressions.”

This show marks the first time Ms. Topham is showing her tapestries from the Southwest on the East End. She will also show tapestries from her Sagaponack, Accabonac and Hudson River series.

An opening reception for the show, which runs May 1 through June 6, will be at the library on Saturday, May 3 from 3 to 5 p.m. For more information, call the library at 725-0049.

“With My Own Eyes” Explores Arab Culture with Sag Harbor Resident Ken Dorph

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75 Kerkennah Ayoub donkey (2)

Sag Harbor resident Ken Dorph in Tunisia in 1976. 

By Tessa Raebeck

Ken Dorph has lived with a polygamous family in Morocco, was kidnapped in Mexico City and picked olives with Palestinians next to an Israeli settlement. In his career in international banking, Mr. Dorph, a longtime Sag Harbor resident, has traveled the world, meeting people and learning about their respective cultures, histories and prejudices. In all his travels over a 40-year career, Mr. Dorph says he has never encountered a people so misunderstood by Americans as Arabs.

On Thursday evening, Mr. Dorph talked about the history, misconceptions and politics of the Arab world. The talk was the first of a new series, “With My Own Eyes,” sponsored by Bay Street Theatre and the John Jermain Memorial Library. with the intent of bringing local residents together to learn from the experts in their midst.

“We really can bridge our differences with enough information,” said Catherine Creedon, the library’s executive director, who on Friday called Mr. Dorph’s talk “the realization of a longtime dream for me.”

“History is never fully objective,” Mr. Dorph began, citing both his own subjectivity and the manner in which schoolchildren are taught. “History is always told from the perspective of which facts are chosen, how you speak it.”

The presentation was dedicated to two of his friends, Rob Deraney, who died in the World Trade Center’s north tower on September 11, 2001, and Tracy Hushin, who was killed by a car bomb in Amman, Jordan, in 2005.

“September 11 profoundly affected me,” Mr. Dorph said, “Not just the loss of a friend, but this sense of misunderstanding between the Arabs and the Americans. I decided I wanted to come back to the Arab world; I had to be an ambassador. I had to show the Americans that not all Arabs are evil and I had to show the Arabs that not all Americans hate them.”

Mr. Dorph emphasized that, contrary to its representation in popular culture, the Muslim world is not monolithic. From democratic, secular Turkey to the fundamentalist absolute monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the Arab world is spread across a myriad of dialects, nationalities and continents. Some 90 percent of Arabs are Muslims, but only about 20 percent of Muslims are Arabs. Of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, the vast majority live in Asia—India has more Muslims than the entire Arab world.

The center of civilization for centuries, the Arab world once boasted most of the world’s largest cities and flourished with art, architecture, music, philosophy and all forms of culture.

“Before the discovery of America, Middle Eastern dominance seemed inevitable,” Mr. Dorph said. “Most of the great urban centers of the world until the 20th century were in the Middle East, Europe was a backwater…. this whole idea of Europe ruling the world is a relatively new concept.”

In addition to the misguided view of the region as uncultured, primitive. and monolithic, Mr. Dorph said there is grave misunderstanding of women’s position in Islam.

“For its time,” he said, “Islam was a feminist religion, remarkably feminist.”

The first wife of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, was a businesswoman who didn’t wear a veil. The Muslim holy book, the Quran, banned female infanticide, gave women inheritance rights and right of witness and limited polygamy, divorce and dowries, all radical policies for the 7th century.

“Throughout the Arab world, women are as literate—in some cases more literate—than Arab men, actually in many cases now,” he said.

“I have worked all over the world and I have found that in Egypt, Turkey, in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Morocco, there are more women in authority—in banks at least—than there are in the United States—and way more than on Wall Street. I worked on Wall Street and Wall Street was like Saudi Arabia…[that] may have changed now, but [was] certainly true in the ’80s—worse than Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Mr. Dorph said in Korea and Japan, the opportunities for women are “way worse than in the Arab world,” yet people rarely comment on the treatment of women when discussing those countries.

When thinking of Muslim women, many Westerners conjure up images of  women in burqas, with nothing but their eyes showing through black cloaks. In reality, most Muslim women who wear veils choose to don a hijab, or simple headscarf.

In an informal survey of some 50 Muslim women, Mr. Dorph asked why they choose to wear the hijab. He received an “amazing series of responses,” he said, “but almost all of them have to, number one, deal with identity. The Muslim world knows that America is on their case.”

In response to prejudice against their religion because of the perception that it oppresses women, many Muslim women have decided to wear the veil in a proud statement of their Islamic identity.

Mr. Dorph recalled a Syrian woman who said to him, “The Lebanese girls with their makeup, with their hair, nobody takes them seriously. But when I wear my hijab with no makeup, people take me seriously.”

Mr. Dorph also spoke in-depth of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, noting, “Israel’s creation was devastating to the Arab world in many ways.”

When the newly formed United Nations partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in 1948, the Arab world was essentially divided in half. The centuries-old trade route from the cultural center of Cairo to the intellectual capital of the Arab world, Damascus, was eradicated.

“All these trade routes that had existed for thousands of years were gone because you had this hostile area in between,” Mr. Dorph said.

“I think it’s part of our culture that we see the world through the Israeli lens,” he said, adding that a third of American foreign aid goes to Israel and the United States is the only country in which over half the population views Israel favorably.

“Life in the occupied West Bank is a series of obstacles,” he said. There are areas Palestinians are allowed to build, areas they can go with permission, areas where they are not allowed and “checkpoints everywhere.”

“It’s a disturbing place,” said Mr. Dorph, adding that the West Bank is a “different place” than the rest of Israel, which is considerably more progressive and secular.

When he first saw the wall in the West Bank, Mr. Dorph thought it was a prison. When his cab driver told him otherwise, “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I cried. I just thought this is wrong, this is not the way to build a future.”

“The extremists are killing us, they’re the ones. It’s not the Israelis, it’s not the Egyptians, it’s the nutcases that are the problem,” he said.

A film of Mr. Dorph’s presentation can be found at the library’s temporary space at 34 West Water Street in Sag Harbor. 

Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library Will Return to its Historic Building by the Fall – Hopefully

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After an extended delay, on February 1 workers finally began installing steel piles that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition to the John Jermain Memorial Library, completing the installation February 15. Michael Heller photo.

After an extended delay, on February 1 workers finally began installing steel piles that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition to the John Jermain Memorial Library, completing the installation February 15. Michael Heller photo.

By Tessa Raebeck

On Saturday, February 15, at around 1 p.m., the last of the new piles for the foundation of the John Jermain Memorial Library’s addition went into the ground, just moments before the snow began to fall.  Missing the snowstorm was a small bit of good luck in a four-year construction process that has been wrought with setbacks.

With the foundation excavated and the piles installed, Sag Harbor’s historic library is finally moving full steam ahead on its addition—and Executive Director Catherine Creedon couldn’t be happier.

“It’s great,” Ms. Creedon said Tuesday, “This has been, as you know, a long journey… the design process for these piles was intensive.”

Screw-like stainless steel poles driven into the ground to support a structure, the piles were first delivered in December after geological conditions, the historic nature of the 201 Main Street building and the village’s requirements that vibrations from caused by construction be limited together mandated the complete redesign of the foundation plan.

That part of the process was finally completed Saturday, “so we’re up and running now,” said Ms. Creedon. The next steps are placing the underground plumbing, electrical work, ductwork, piping, conduits and loop hearing system, or essentially everything that needs to be set in the ground. A grade beam, which helps distribute the weight of the foundation, will then be installed atop the piles and the foundation will, at long last, be poured over that. Ms. Creedon is hopeful that work will be completed by the end of March.

The restoration and expansion of the library officially began in 2009, when the community approved a referendum to fund nearly $10 million for the project, with the library committing to raise an additional $2 million. In the nearly five years since, the library has exceeded its goal, raising about $2.5 million through grants and pledges. But due to the setbacks, Ms. Creedon estimated another $1 million is necessary to complete the project.

“It’s generally, I think, hard to point to any one thing and say this is what it was,” she said of incurring the additional costs. “Part of it was the extended permitting process we went through which had its own expenses, part of it was work on the dome, part of it was work on the foundation and some of it was the economy itself; that when we had the referendum vote in 2009, we were in a period of de-escalation in construction costs and now we’ve moved into a period of escalation in construction costs.”

Ms. Creedon used to give timeframes for the reopening of the expanded library in months, but has now reduced her speculation to seasons. “And the season I’m going to say is late fall 2014,” she said Tuesday. Her personal goal is for the community—and the patient staff and patrons of the library—to be able to enjoy it again by the time it celebrates its 104th birthday October 10.

“The temporary space has been great,” said the director, “but I’m so excited to have the new building in place for us to be able to really expand on the programs we offer to the community.”

John Jermain Memorial Library in Sag Harbor Moves Forward on Excavation of New Addition

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The steel screws that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition of the John Jermain Memorial Library.

The steel screws that will be used to secure the foundation of the new addition of the John Jermain Memorial Library. (Photo by Michael Heller).

By Tessa Raebeck

After years of planning and months of revisions and setbacks, the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) in Sag Harbor is finally ready to start the excavation of its new addition.

“It really is an exciting time,” Catherine Creedon, the library’s director, said Thursday.

The restoration and expansion of the library’s historic building at 201 Main Street officially began in 2009, but the project has encountered several unforeseen obstacles that stalled its progress.

One of those obstacles occurred when work began on the excavation for the new addition.

Soil borings, tests that evaluate the soil and its ability to support a structure, which were done in the early predesign stages of the project proved inaccurate once the excavation began in August, rendering the original plans to support a 7,000 square-foot addition obsolete.

The initial plan was to support the structure with long finger-like spread footings, a type of shallow foundation that extends beyond the building’s perimeter and transfers building loads close to the earth’s surface. After performing more soil borings, however, the library found several areas of the construction site exhibited lower soil bearing capacity than was initially thought, meaning a deeper foundation was required.

The usual response to such a problem is to simply extend the spread footings further, but longer spread footings would have reached off of the library’s land and onto the neighboring property, 6 Union Street.

“Obviously,” said Creedon, “that wasn’t a possibility.”

The next fix considered was to install conventional driven piles, screw-like poles of either wood, reinforced concrete or steel that are pushed into the ground. Because the library’s village building permit limits the amount of vibration the construction process can create, however, conventional piles turned out to be yet another impossible option.

Working with preservationists, civil engineers, structural engineers and architects — all within the parameter of the building permits and property lines — Creedon went “back and forth with a series of designs” until a plan was finally determined.

“It’s been a journey, but we’re there now,” she said Thursday.

The team has designed and ordered stainless steel helical piles. At 20 feet, they will be driven into the foundation in key places. A header, or concrete beam, runs along the top of the piles.

“The combination of the beam and the helical piles will support the new addition,” said Creedon. “So it’s a great day.”

“I’m so excited,” she added, “to open that new building and so excited at the opportunity to really fully serve the community.”

The new piles will be delivered to the construction site on Friday and twisted into the ground soon after the New Year.

Driving the piles — 80 in total — into the foundation is expected to take two to three weeks. After the header is installed, construction will start on the other walls and the building’s steel support.

Depending on the weather this winter, Sag Harbor residents should be enjoying their new library within the year.

“Our latest schedule,” explained Creedon, “is showing that the substantial completion [will be] in August, so my goal — and I think I tend to be an optimistic person — my goal is to move back in there for the library’s birthday.”

Founded in 1910, the library will celebrate its 104th birthday on October 10, hopefully in its new and improved home.

“And sooner would be great,” adds Creedon.

John Jermain Memorial Library Accepts Vast Collection of Native American Research Books

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Mac Griswold, Richard Buckley and Catherine Creedon pose with books from Buckley's collection at the library's storage unit.

Sag Harbor Historian Mac Griswold, Collector Richard Buckley and JJML Director Catherine Creedon pose with books from Buckley’s collection at the library’s storage unit November 12.

By Tessa Raebeck

As a child growing up in Little Falls, New York, Richard Buckley was eager to learn about the Native American tribes that lived nearby, but the materials he could find were minimal, ill advised and uninformed.

“It didn’t seem right to me the way they were describing it,” explained Buckley, who, rather than settling for subpar information, spent the next 40 years compiling an extensive collection of books, journals and other research on — and by — Native Americans.

On November 13, Buckley and his wife, former United States Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, packed his entire collection of 23 boxes into the back of their pick-up truck and drove from their home in Northern Virginia to Despatch Self Storage in Bridgehampton, where Catherine Creedon excitedly awaited their arrival.Richard Buckley

After a deliberate screening process of potential libraries in New York State, Buckley decided to donate his collection to the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) in Sag Harbor, where Creedon is director, because he knew they would be appreciated, complemented and, most importantly, used.

Buckley, who worked as a lawyer before concentrating primarily on his research and academic lecturing, estimates his collection includes some 350 materials. The most historically significant part of the collection is the inclusion of four journals on Native American history, to which Buckley has subscribed since their respective inceptions.

He began subscribing to the American Indian Culture and Research Journal when it was first published in 1979, and the journals now fill four boxes.

The journals “give an incredible amount of new history,” said Buckley. “History that had never been written from the viewpoint of American Indians.”

“These journals,” he continued, “have covered everything from the history to the current preservation of Native American tribes throughout the ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, 2000s. If someone were to read those journals, they could write a thesis.”

The collection also includes 15 boxes of books on Native Americans, separated by topics such as women, Iroquois and “Excellent/General Overviews.”

In compiling his collection, Buckley first tackled the Native American history of New York State, moving on to the entire continental United States and eventually to Alaska and Latin America. The collection also includes extensive documentation of the present condition of Native Americans.

“That is probably the underlying value of the collection,” explained Buckley, “to have that approach of — both historically and currently — the ongoing evolution of American Indian history…. The collection’s value is to show that American Indians are not only here, but they’re living out their history, they’re living out their story.”

Once his collection was complete with an extensive variety of viewpoints from both men and women across different regions, tribes and cultures, Buckley faced the daunting task of deciding where his work belonged.

“What I did was,” he explained, “because I didn’t want these to go anywhere, I wanted them to be in a certain library — when I contacted [the libraries], I’d then know whether it was the right fit.”

Former Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, JJML Director Catherine Creedon and Richard Buckley in the midst of delivering the collection November 12.

Former Ambassador Prudence Bushnell, JJML Director Catherine Creedon and Richard Buckley in the midst of delivering the collection November 12.

At first, Buckley put a notice in the regional library system of central New York, where he grew up. Without any quick responses, he sent the notice to the statewide system.

Within a few days, he was on the phone with Cathy Creedon.

“By the initial interest,” he said, “I could see that she was really interested and they were looking for something to complement the new renovation and the newly restored old beautiful building.”

Since JJML opened in 1910, the History Room has been an integral part of the library. It started with rare materials from the personal library of William Wallace Tooker, a Sag Harbor pharmacist who was also an ethnographer with an interest in Algonquin history. Tooker’s collection in JJML includes the Eliot Indian Bible, a bible in the Algonquin language that was the first bible printed in the colonies.

After unloading the 23 boxes into a storage unit, Creedon gave Buckley a tour of the new building, including the history room, which once completed will be climate-controlled, humidity-controlled and temperature-controlled.

“The tour of the library was the final proof that my donation will ‘fit’ with the future use of the library — particularly the special research room,” said Buckley. “The primary reason for donating the collection to [JJML] is Cathy. She will ensure that the collection is used in the most effective manner.”

In a message to Creedon, Buckley envisioned his collection in Sag Harbor.

“I imagined,” he wrote, “that you would have at the opening of your beautiful library — a researcher would be reserving the special room and using the American Indian collection. She will complete a new powerful book about the contributions of Indian women.”

“I thought that was a real tribute to the role of a public library,” said Creedon.

John Jermain Memorial Library Looks Towards New Year, New Building

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By Amanda Wyatt; Photography by Michael Heller

The year 2012 was a whirlwind for John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML), but don’t expect it to slow down too much in 2013. In fact, the library is moving full speed ahead with its renovation and expansion during this new year.

Already, scaffolding is being slowly taken down from the historic building, which has been undergoing a massive renovation since last spring. And if all goes according to plan, JJML will be able to break ground on its new, modern addition to the 102-year-old structure later this month.

The multimillion-dollar construction project has been years in the making, and was approved for funding by library district voters in 2010, but as Catherine Creedon, JJML’s director, explained this week, the library really kicked the project into high gear last March.

That was when JJML received its building permit from the Village of Sag Harbor, as well as a construction loan from the Bridgehampton National Bank.

“Those two things really allowed us to begin the project in earnest,” Creedon said.

For Creedon, nine months ago feels more like “a million years ago,” considering all of the work that has been accomplished in such a small amount of time.

The exterior bricks at the historic building have been restored with a new roof currently in the works. The restored stained glass lay light — one of the architectural gems of the library — will also be installed soon.

All of the windows have been restored, and new mahogany storm windows have also been fabricated for the outside of the building. The library’s lighting fixtures, which were originally wired for gas, are being cleaned and rewired by a master craftsperson in Connecticut.

The building’s “crown jewel” — the terracotta dome designed by the R. Guastavino Company and located on the third floor rotunda — has also been restored after a rather anxiety-provoking discovery this summer.

“We took off the old copper dome and it was in very bad shape, corroded in a variety of places, worn very thin and quite grayed out and green,” said Creedon.

But when workers began to take off the terra cotta tiles to replace them, they discovered that the steel compression ring — which went around he base of the dome — had been corroded. As a result, they built a temporary shoring ring which was used until the new compression ring was built.

“We knew we would discover the unexpected, and indeed we did. So that was a time delay and an extra cost,” Creedon said.

“I’ve been told that most of the surprises will be behind us. The old building held a lot of mystery, but the new construction should be a little bit more straightforward,” she added.

But as Creedon noted, the library’s “ongoing priority is to restore and stabilize the historic structure before we break ground [on the new addition], before we do any on-site vibration that could further damage it.”

And while the library’s exterior might be the most visible part of the John Jermain building project, its interior renovation is just as exciting to Creedon.

The library is looking into purchasing small, freestanding charging stations that are solar operated, which Creedon noted will be useful during power outages. These stations would be able to “power up a cell phone, a laptop or an espresso maker — depending on what you feel your critical needs are,” Creedon joked.

Currently, Trunzo Builders, the Wainscott-based company heading the renovation, is finding ways to rewire the historic building to improve wireless communication. Pat Trunzo III said his firm was picking out special floor boxes to be installed on all three floors that would allow for patrons to both charge their laptops and hardwire them to get internet access.

JJML is also planning to put in place a LOOP hearing-amplification system throughout the building for the hearing impaired, as well as computers with specialized voice recognition software, movie and music-editing software and more.

In the new building, there will be less space for DVDs, which Creedon likes to call “the VHS tapes of the very near future.”

The library, said Creedon, is seeing an increase in the number of people asking for help with digital downloads, e-book devices and specialized computer applications.

“We’re really looking at the new space and saying how can the library fulfill its mission of providing information to the community by being a teaching institution, by making sure that if more and more information is available only electronically, that we’ve not only provided access to that information, but we’ve given our community the skills with which to access it. So that has been key as we look at the design of the building,” she said.

“We’re always responding to changes in culture.”

John Jermain Memorial Library Eyes Cultural District

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The John Jermain Memorial Library has its eye on a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant for creative placemaking that could lead to the creation of cultural district in the village. The idea would be to connect a group of not-for-profit entities that would be charged with promoting the arts and culture that makes Sag Harbor a special place.

According to Eric Cohen, the library’s technology and multi-media coordinator who is spearheading this initiative, the library intends to apply for the grant in 2014. In order to be successful, the library – which intends to be the lead agent in the application process – needs the support of the Village of Sag Harbor, which must partner with JJML in this endeavor.

During Tuesday night’s Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees meeting, Cohen gave a presentation on the grant proposal. He said the library will make formal application to the village later next year as it moves closer to filing its request with the NEA.

While the proposal is still in the conceptual phase and something Cohen said village residents will be asked to weigh in on in a substantive way, at its core is the creation of a Sag Harbor Village Cultural District encompassing geography around five entities – Canio’s Books, JJML, the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum, the Sag Harbor Custom House and the Sag Harbor Historical Society.

“The point of the cultural district is an acknowledgement of what already exists in Sag Harbor,” said Cohen Tuesday night. “It is also a mechanism for Sag Harbor’s cultural institutions to work together for the benefit of ourselves and community.”

Cohen said ultimately the idea is to strengthen the community and make it a more desirable place to live, but also the district would serve as an economic engine, attracting more visitors to Sag Harbor specifically because of its arts and culture.

While ideas have yet to be solidified, Cohen said over the course of the next year, joint programming between these not-for-profit organizations will be devised as a first step towards making the cultural district a reality.

The NEA grant, which JJML Director Catherine Creedon discovered while looking at different grant opportunities for the library, is for creative placemaking – a personal passion of Cohen’s.

According to the NEA, in creative placemaking “partners from public, private, nonprofit, and community sectors strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, tribe, city or region and arts and cultural activities. Creative placemaking animates public and private spaces, rejuvenates structures and streetscapes, improves local business viability and public safety, and brings diverse people together to celebrate, inspire and be inspired.”

Grant funding ranges from $25,000 to $200,0000, depending on the project. Cohen said projects within the grant could be as simple as creating a needed dance studio space or sponsoring a series of outdoor art exhibits. Creating a cultural district is also one of the initiatives supported by the grant.

“We want the community to help us plan this together,” said Cohen.

Police Debate Continues

While the Village of Sag Harbor and the Sag Harbor Police Benevolent Association (PBA) have made little headway in negotiations for a new police contract, on Tuesday night resident Robert Turner urged the board to find some way to agree to a contract with the PBA and discouraged any discussion about using an outside agency to police Sag Harbor Village.

Turner said one of the reasons he and his wife moved to Sag Harbor was because it had everything they were looking for in a village — including a local police force.

He also suggested that figures detailing salaries of officers and the original 4.5 percent request for a salary increase made by the PBA did not go far enough in showing residents what the actual impact on their taxes would be if that contract was approved.

“What is the assessed value cost in this contract as opposed to the old contract,” he asked.

Sag Harbor Mayor Brian Gilbride said the last contract was for five years and gave officers over that period a 26 percent increase in pay, with even larger increases for night differentials and longevity.

According to Mayor Gilbride, he expects the contract dispute will likely move to binding arbitration.

In other village news, the board accepted the formal resignation of Sag Harbor Village Zoning Board of Appeals Chairwoman Gayle Pickering, with regrets, and appointed board member Anton Hagen as the board’s new chairman effective immediately.

The board also accepted the resignation of Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board member Michael Mensch.

In a letter to the village board, Mensch cited personal and professional reasons for his resignation.

“I have enjoyed the position and my fellow members immensely, and hope in the future I can be recommended again,” said Mensch.

Graffiti Whales Descend on Sag Harbor Village

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By Kathryn G. Menu; Photography by Michael Heller, Kathryn G. Menu & Penelope Hope

A rash of graffiti was reported last week to village police, the tags bearing an image most people associate with Sag Harbor — a whale.

According to Sag Harbor Village Police, the department has received a total of five reports of the friendly, smiling whale being tagged on buildings throughout the village.

On Sunday, September 2, the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) on Main Street was defaced with four whales — in neon shades of pink, blue, green and yellow — on plastic sheeting along the scaffolding above the front entrance of the historic library.

The library is in the process of a multi-million renovation and expansion and contractors just recently finished a laborious (and expensive) restoration of the brickwork, mortar and limestone cornice, according to JJML Director Catherine Creedon.

On September 5, a neon blue and green whale, smiling broadly, was discovered on the rear of Apple Bank’s Main Street building. The same day, a neon green whale was found painted beneath the now infamous Larry Rivers’ “Legs” sculpture on the side of Ruth Vered and Janet Lehr’s Madison Street home, although it was quickly painted over.

Not even religious institutions were safe, as the caretaker of the Sag Harbor Presbyterian (Old Whalers’) Church discovered on the morning of September 8. A more crudely drawn outline of a blue whale was discovered on the west side of the church building facing the Old Burying Ground.

The same day, a white and blue whale was found on the Schiavoni building on Jermain Avenue — that building has been the subject of several tags over the years, according to Sag Harbor Village Police Sergeant Paul Fabiano. Along with that whale was the tag reported last week by police that reads “freedumb.”

All of the whales were painted between two-to-three feet in height with a length of five-to-six feet.

According to Creedon, whose library was the first victim of the graffiti spree, her first concern is for the safety of the artist who had to scale scaffolding and actually move it around in order to accomplish all four whales at JJML.

“The whales were actually installed outside the scaffolding railings,” said Creedon. “My fear is we are going to end up with a local kid who is hurt or injured trying to do something like this.”

Creedon said in addition to a security system at the library, both contractors and police have agreed to increase patrols around the library.

“The community has entrusted us with restoring a building that is a symbol of Sag Harbor and its history,” added Creedon. “We have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on restoring the exterior of the original building.”

Creedon said while the graffiti ultimately did not damage the building, if the paint had gotten through the plastic sheeting, the chemicals needed to clean spray paint off the historic brick would degrade that material, a costly and precious loss, she said.

According to Sergeant Fabiano, the department is looking at the tags of graffiti artists they have nabbed in the past, as well as tags found by police departments outside of Sag Harbor.

Sergeant Fabiano said most graffiti work does occur overnight and in this case he expects it could be more than one individual responsible for the unapproved art.

If someone is collared for the graffiti whales in Sag Harbor, Sergeant Fabiano said he or she could face a misdemeanor charge of making graffiti for each defacing. Graffiti made on private property can also carry a charge of trespassing and if someone enters a building there could even be charges of burglary, he said.

Sergeant Fabiano asked that anyone with information about the graffiti contact Sag Harbor Village Police at 725-0247. All calls will be kept confidential.

“And maybe we can put this person or these people to work in the village doing some decent artwork that is approved,” he said.

JJML Board Adopts Budget

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Sidebar: The Library Budget


As the John Jermain Memorial Library’s Board of Trustees finalized its 2013 proposed budget, it always intended to stay within a state mandated two-percent property tax levy cap, which all school districts, municipalities and public libraries are subject to, according to Director Catherine Creedon.

“It is this board’s intention to have a conservative budget understanding that the economy is a factor for the community we serve,” says Creedon.

Last Wednesday, the JJML Board of Trustees adopted a proposed $2,158,915 budget within the two percent increase. That budget includes $905,000 in debt service for the $10 million bond school district voters approved over three years ago for the expansion and renovation of the historic John Jermain Memorial Library building on Main Street.

Creedon said that most line items are in line with the library’s 2012 $2,158,200 budget, which was approved by voters in the Sag Harbor School District although there have been a few notable changes. The library expects to generate less income from the Xerox copier, computer printer and through fines as people are more able to print and copy at home and can renew books online.

The library also plans to invest less in reference books and adult periodicals, but more in the virtual reference collection and digital books.

Custodial salaries will rise as a result of the move to 201 Main Street, which will be a bigger building. Buildings and grounds expenses will also go up, as will utilities, said Creedon. According to Creedon, those costs are expected to rise from $32,000 in 2011-2012 to $36,000 in 2012-2013.

Administrative expenses like newsletter printings and mailings will rise in cost from about $9,800 to about $10,860. Office supplies will rise from $12,000 to $12,680.

The next meeting of the JJML Board of Trustees will take place on Wednesday, July 18 at 6 p.m.