Tag Archive | "John Jermain Memorial Library"

John Jermain Memorial Library Presents New Designs for Modern Addition

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The plan for a modern expansion of the historic John Jermain Memorial Library has received a fairly favorable review from the village’s architectural review board – the committee charged with protecting the historic character of Sag Harbor.

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On Thursday, April 8, the library’s architect Richard Munday informally presented the village ARB with initial plans to expand the 7,084 square-foot building with a 7,725 square foot, three-story expansion made of glass, masonry and stainless steel beams.

Munday said the design was meant to showcase what libraries meant to patrons in 1910, evidenced in the original building’s architecture, as well as how patrons use the libraries today – highlighted in the modern, open addition.

“They were repositories and expressions of what was thought to be the very best of what the human mind can conceive and your library very much exemplifies that idea,” said Munday. “It is a building that when you enter, you enter another world and you leave behind the village. You are immersed in this body of knowledge.”

Unlike the historic JJML building, where patrons are enveloped by the building once they pass through its entryway, the addition, Munday said, is meant to highlight the change in how libraries are viewed — not just as places where an education by the great thinkers can be obtained, but also as spaces where discovery of new knowledge is fostered and where one can reflect, from a visual perspective, on their community.

“Our thinking is that this library, this addition, should be different in its character, different in its expression,” he said, noting the Secretary of the Interior mandates that expansions of historic buildings should purposefully not mimic the original structure. Munday said the hope is that patrons enter JJML, still experiencing the historic library Sag Harbor has embraced for a century, and then move into the expansion and feel as if they are in a completely different kind of space.

“A library that doesn’t enclose, but acts like a podium looking out on the place we have come from,” Munday said, noting patrons will even be able to gaze at the historic library structure from the floor-to-ceiling glass panes that dominate the front of the new library – a design feature ARB chairman Cee Scott Brown called “compelling.”

The addition, which Munday described as “Chevron shaped,” wraps around the back of JJML with two wings visible from Main Street. While the portions of the addition facing Main Street are primarily glass and stainless steel, the majority of the rear is clad in stone, in an effort to minimize the impact the building will have on neighbors.

On the Jefferson Street side of the expansion, where people now enter the library’s first floor, outdoor seating and landscaping is planned in a pavilion-like, stone setting. JJML director Catherine Creedon said she enjoys the fact that the new design requires patrons to use the same two library entrances they use today, albeit upgraded.

“The new library addition really acts in the shadow of the old building,” noted Munday, adding it was designed to be a “softer presence and a more informal presence” than the original library building.

The renovation and expansion also aims for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status, said Munday.

Creedon explained the first floor would contain children services, as it allows for easy access off Jefferson Street.

“For all the flaws this building has, it has great acoustics,” added Creedon, noting the children’s services on the first floor will protect the rest of the library from overhearing story time or the children’s librarian engaging in another round of the Hokey Pokey.

The ground floor also has a program room and a teen collection.

The second story will be fully restored, and patrons will find the adult collections on this floor, along with a main circulation desk, a periodical reading room, a reference desk, multimedia areas, gallery space, and offices for the staff and Creedon herself.

The third floor will be fully restored, furniture included, to its original 1910 layout, including a working fireplace, and is viewed as a contemplative reading and study space for the community. It will also boast a climate-controlled archive, Creedon’s dream since becoming director at JJML.

“My first reaction is there is too much glass,” said ARB member Bethany Deyermond.

Both Brown and board member Michael Mensch agreed the kind of stone used in the expansion would be crucial to its architectural success. Munday said his firm is looking at different stones with red, brown and grey highlights, but has yet to settle on one yet.

“Conceptually, I like it very much,” said Mensch. “I think the contrast is well conceived between the two.”

“I have to say, myself, I am very excited about the addition and I think it is very sensitive and respectful to the original building,” said Brown. “It’s very exciting as a new piece of history of the village.”

Second Language is Second Nature at John Jermain Memorial Library

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In its first years of existence as Sag Harbor’s community library, John Jermain Memorial Library director Olive Pratt Young offered English as a Second Language for immigrant workers from the Bulova Watchcase Factory, cultivating a foreign language collection that reached 2,000 volumes by 1915. The collection was primarily written in Lithuanian, Polish, German, Italian, Czechoslovakian, Hungarian and French, and at the request of villagers even provided residents a Lithuanian newspaper to thumb through.

“From the first years of the library we were doing this kind of programming and collection development,” said current library director Catherine Creedon.

The library continues its all-inclusive community mission to this day. On Tuesday evenings, JJML hosts a 4 p.m. preparation of naturalization, or the citizenship exam given by the United States government, followed by a two-hour English conversation class, geared towards all nationalities. The programs are free, in large part, Creedon said this week, because library program director Martha Potter and JJML staffer Aracely Garcia are willing to lend their time to the cause, along with volunteers from the community.

A public school teacher in Brooklyn and Northern Westchester for 30 years, Potter came to JJML with the desire to teach English as a Second Language, in part because of a promise she made to her young students as a school teacher – that in retirement she would give back to the community, as she had often preached to her own pupils. Shortly before BOCES shut down its own ESL program in Sag Harbor two years ago, Potter approached the newly-hired Creedon, who was enthusiastic about the prospect.

While JJML’s courses have benefited immigrants from Central and South America, Potter said the program has also served Moroccan, Russian, Korean, Polish and French immigrants, and after two years has jumped from two students a session to 20 on some Tuesday nights, educating roughly 100 in English language.

“We are very flexible and the classes are very flexible,” said Potter, noting students can come and go, some weekly, others attending the course when work and family obligations allow.

Garcia has lived in Sag Harbor for 16 years, but it was after Creedon was hired in 2007 that she became a part of the JJML family. After years as a patron, Creedon hired Garcia, and since that day, the Guatemalan native has actively tried to engage the Latino community with the library. Finding success, and patronage, throughout the Sag Harbor community, Garcia said the Latino community, in particular, feels a level of comfort at the library, in large part due to the staff who welcome everyone with open arms, and more importantly, valuable resources.

Potter’s naturalization class focuses on United States history and the U.S. Constitution – the backbone of the five to 10 questions, out of 100, immigrants vying to become citizens will be asked during their citizenship exam.

The English Conversation Class is taught by both Garcia and Potter, with Garcia leading the beginners class and Potter handling intermediate to advance students. The classes focus largely on conversation as a means of engaging the students, tackling grammar as they become more comfortable with the language. Childcare, provided by Susan Farrell and Creedon, is also free of charge for students.

“What we need to do is recognize that with true literacy, spoken language is just a part of it,” said Creedon, noting in addition to English language, teaching real literacy involves educating patrons about technology and online resources, how to fill out a job application and a resume. “Literacy is really a spectrum of skills.”

In addition to those skills, JJML also tries to provide as many bi-lingual and multi-lingual resources as possible, including a collection of 120 volumes of literature, as well as DVDs. It also hosts a foreign language database, and a travel information program, Global Road Warrior, that Creedon explores herself to understand the intricacies of the culture of a new patron. Websites like tutor.com, also available at the library, offer GED information, citizenship information, a live tutor and are readily accessible with a library card.

Creedon and Potter dream of having an ongoing children’s bi-lingual reading hour, as well as a GED program for the library as the program expands.

“Aracely is a great gift to us because she understands the challenge of becoming part of a new culture, making a life and having a foot, if not a heart, in two cultures,” said Creedon. “Her gift to this program is what has made the library a comfortable place to come into.”

Public to Weigh-in on Library Plan

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By Kathryn G. Menu

The Sag Harbor Planning Board is seeking the opinions of residents, as well as the village’s historic preservation and architectural review board, as it moves into its formal review of an expansion and renovation of the historic John Jermain Memorial Library.

During its Tuesday, March 23 meeting, the planning board agreed to handle the review of the proposed 7,000 square foot addition, which will nearly double the library’s current size.

“You asked for it, so you are going to get it,” said the village’s environmental planning consultant Rich Warren.

The first order of business, according to village attorney Anthony Tohill, is to invite the library to present the plans to the public on Tuesday, April 27 and hear what they think about the proposal.

 “It is intended to move the notion of public concerns up as early as possible,” said Tohill, adding it is not a meeting intended to substitute the more formal scoping session under state environmental law.

Tohill added the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) should also be asked to informally weigh in on the library’s expansion.

 “It is an important architectural moment, obviously,” said Tohill. While the ARB’s thoughts should not bind the planning board as it moves forward with its own review, suggested Tohill, the ARB’s opinion should be heard sooner, rather than later due to the historic nature of the library.

While issues like traffic impacts, parking, the impact on immediate neighbors and changes to JJML’s programs may be at the front of the planning board’s mind, said Tohill, residents may offer a different perspective or another issue they feel should be considered. 

“One of the results that can be authored by this approach is we can cause the process to move more efficiently, and quickly, and that is one of the goals,” he said.

The next Sag Harbor Village Planning Board meeting is on Tuesday, April 27 at 5:30 p.m. The next Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board meeting is Thursday, April 8 at 5 p.m. with the following meeting on Monday, April 26. The library will likely begin its review at one of these two meetings, although has yet to be scheduled on a formal agenda.

John Jermain Expansion One Step Closer

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The John Jermain Memorial Library this week cleared its first obstacle in the Sag Harbor Planning Board’s review of its 7000-square-foot expansion and restoration plan, moving a step closer to public review and examination by the historic preservation and architectural review board and the village zoning board of appeals.

On Monday, March 1, the planning board officially deemed the library’s application complete after months of gathering information. The board will now begin its formal review of the project, likely starting with a public session sometime in April or May.

Members of the library board and its director Catherine Creedon, accompanied by the library’s architects, planner and contractor, breathed sighs of relief as the resolution was passed after being told at two previous meetings the village needed more information on issues like parking, sewage, landscaping and adjacent property owners before the project could move forward.

The board and its village consultants, however, stressed this was just a first step and there would be a number of issues to explore before John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) can break ground on its new facility. Creedon has expressed hope the library could do so in time for its centennial celebration in October.

Creedon said she looks forward to presenting the public, which this summer approved the library’s request for almost $10 million in funding for the project, with the trustee’s plans.

“One of the great things about last night was it freed me up to be a little excited about this project,” said Creedon. “This winter we have been compromised in providing services because of the degradation of the building.”

According to Creedon, a skylight is leaking so badly that during a program last week, patrons shifted throughout the room to avoid falling water. While Creedon has already purchased fleece blankets to contend with an unreliable heating system, she joked this week she might also be purchasing umbrellas.

In addition to repairing and restoring the historic library building, which was first constructed in 1910, the library proposes a 7,000 square-foot addition on the rear of the building. Modern in style, it resembles a glass cube. In addition to planning board and ARB approval, the project will also require variances from the zoning board.

On Monday, Sag Harbor Village Planning Consultant Rich Warren said the library has provided enough material to move forward, but that he still has a number of questions.

The library has no on-site parking spaces and hopes to continue to rely on public parking around the library after the addition is complete. Planner David Emilita states that within 800 feet of the library there are 243 on-street spaces, with 231 considered available to the library after considering homes that require on-street parking.

Emilita estimates the village code only requires 84 spaces for the library, with a parking demand at 47 spaces at peak hours of operation based on traffic studies.

Planning Board member and acting chairman Greg Ferraris said he would prefer to acknowledge there is not enough parking –- knowing the board can move forward regardless – rather than set a precedent by allowing on- street parking to stand in for on-site parking. Ferraris said he wasn’t discouraging the library from creating a plan for parking, but is concerned that private developers down the road could use the plan as a precedent.

“They are going to need to provide some proof to the ZBA,” replied Warren, adding that the issue should be addressed sooner rather than later.

Village attorney Tohill said the approval could be limited specifically to the library, a public institution seeking to create an addition for the public good. His advice is for the planning board move forward alone.

In addition to the ZBA, the library will also need approval from the

Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees to extend the village sewer line to the Main Street location. Sag Harbor sewage treatment plant engineer Paul H. Dietrich has reported the plant could accommodate the anticipated 1,825.5 gallons per day of sewage expected from the library, as well as three other residences and the Custom House, all which may or may not have to hook up to the line in order for it to be extended.

On Tuesday, Creedon said she hoped to have a preliminary meeting set up with village board members sometime this month.

“It’s not the end of the discussion,” said Warren. “It’s the beginning of the discussion, so to speak.”

Warren said first and foremost, he believes a public hearing could help guide the board’s review.

“I think it would be helpful to know what the concerns of the public are so we know we haven’t missed anything,” Warren said. “That may help us determine the review process we go through.”

The Godfather of Teenage Angst

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By Marissa Maier

After noted fiction writer J.D. Salinger passed away on Thursday, January 27 at the age of 91, John Jermain Memorial Library’s Martha Potter had a limited selection of work to choose from for a commemorative display. Salinger published only four books over the course of his lifetime: “Catcher in the Rye” in 1951, “Nine Stories” in 1953, “Franny and Zooey” in 1961, and “Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction,” a collection of two novellas, in 1963. His breadth of published work, though slim, awarded him the reputation as one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century.

Above: A display of Salinger’s work at John Jermain Memorial Library.

Even after Salinger moved to New Hampshire from New York City and became somewhat of a recluse, his writing has stood the test of time. Roughly 65 million copies of “Catcher in the Rye” have been sold worldwide. The book is featured in thousands of high school English curriculum in the U.S. including Pierson, the Ross School and Bridgehampton School.

The novel, depicting protagonist Holden Caulfield’s exploits around Manhattan after being expelled from a prep school, is on the summer reading list for incoming ninth graders at the Ross School. Sag Harbor and Bridgehampton students in eleventh grade read “Catcher in the Rye” as part of their English studies. John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon makes the case that “Catcher in the Rye” remains academically relevant today because it launched the literary genre of young adult fiction, which didn’t take shape until the mid-20th century.

“[Salinger] wrote a coming of age story with such an authentic voice and that is what continues to make it popular,” remarked Creedon. JJML children’s programming director Susann Farrell calls Salinger the “godfather of teenage angst.” Salinger, added Farrell, influenced dozens of popular young adult novelists including Sharon Draper and Jacqueline Woodson.

“As it has obtained classical status, ‘Catcher in the Rye’ has become good furniture for their heads, in that it provides students with a cultural reference in order to view like works,” added Ross English teacher Mark Foard. “How can one watch ‘The Graduate,’ or ‘Risky Business,’ or ‘Igby Goes Down’ without referring back to it? I do use this book early [in the school year] to discuss how to look for meaning in literature.”

Many educators point out young students mainly read Salinger in class and aren’t prone to pick up his work for pleasure reading. Jessica Warne, a Pierson junior, wasn’t introduced to Salinger until this year when her class was assigned “Catcher in the Rye.” In reading the novel, Warne felt the book spoke to the experiences of previous generations.

“I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I don’t think it is necessarily 100 percent accurate of kids today. There wasn’t really a culture then for teenagers,” said Warne, though she conceded the theme of finding oneself is relevant to her classmates.

“We have a lot more venues for adolescents today than in Holden’s time,” noted Pierson English teacher Maria Archer. “Kids back then didn’t have many options of where to go. Poor Holden had to go to a piano bar to find a good time. Channeling adolescent energy appropriately today increases the chance of mental health and proper maturation.”

And though some students find Holden’s experiences antiquated, Farrell believes children who feel like outsiders relish this first-person narrative of a troubled young man. Bridgehampton English teacher Nancy Nagel said she finds the book particularly speaks to students who have trouble communicating with peers and parents.

“I think that whole idea of rite-of-passage, loss of innocence and phoniness is what some young adults can identify with. There are some adolescent problems that never go away,” added Nagel.

For many baby boomers, those who grew up without the Internet or cable television, Salinger’s work still has a special resonance. Creedon fell in love with Salinger’s prose when she was in ninth grade and read the short story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.”

“[The story] takes place on the coast of a beach and it is about someone who commits suicide. It was the first time I read anything that dealt with something that tragic. It was such a new idea that literature could cover this whole range of human emotion and experience,” recalled Creedon. “After that I read everything else that he wrote.”

BookHampton’s general manager Chris Avena noted sales of Salinger’s work has picked up in the week of his death. Avena planned to reread “Nine Stories.” Marsha Mitrowski, the young adult reference librarian at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton, said adults were recently checking out Salinger’s work, not children. She has heard rumors that a movie based on “Catcher in the Rye,” a project Salinger vehemently fought in life, is in the works. A film, said Mitrowski, would help introduce young adults to the story of Holden Caulfield, but she added, “it wouldn’t have the same effect.”

JJML Eyes Plan for Park Parcel

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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.

JJML Searches for a Home Away from Home

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Last Thursday, John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon walked the corridors of the new Hampton Library in Bridgehampton, an exercise she said gave her hope as her own library strives towards completing its own renovation and expansion.

“Just to see this beautiful, vibrant place full of people,” said Creedon. “It does give me hope.”

After a successful, nearly $10 million public referendum passed last summer for a renovation, expansion and restoration of the historic John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML), the library’s plans still hinge on approvals from a number of Sag Harbor Village boards. Regardless, in an effort to keep their publicly funded budget in line, the board of trustees is already undergoing a concerted effort to find the temporary library space they hope will  house them while undergoing construction.

web fishers1(pictured above, The Loeffler Building on Bay Street; pictured left: Fishers Annex on Bridge Street)

So far, according to Creedon, the library is entertaining three spaces, all within village  boundaries.

“It looks like a great place for us,” said Creedon of the West Water Street location most recently occupied by Personal Best Fitness, which has since moved to Bridgehampton’s Ocean Road.

Creedon said the board is also interested in 24 Bay Street, also known as the Loeffler Building – the newest commercial construction completed in that neighborhood. JJML board member Carl Peterson has also visited Fishers Annex on Bridge Street, which boasts a whopping 7,000 square-feet of open space.

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“We need, at an absolute minimum 4,000 square-feet and obviously cost is a factor,” said Creedon. “The monies for the temporary space and any necessary renovations come out of the referendum.”

The Loeffler Bulding would give the library between 4200 and 4500 square feet of space, said Creedon, and the former Personal Best space would provide roughly 3800 square-feet for JJML. Despite being slightly smaller than the library would hope for, Creedon said the West Water Street locale may require the least amount of renovation to create library space.

Creedon said having the place handicap accessible was also at the top of the library’s list of priorities. She added the library budgeted $150,000 for the total cost of rent and renovations for the expected 16 to 18 month temporary space, although when that time frame begins lies in the hands of the village, which has yet to begin its formal review of the project.

“In a perfect world we anticipated moving into this space in September of 2010,” said Creedon, noting it was the board’s hope they would move back into JJML in the late spring or early summer of 2012.

That the space lies in the Village of Sag Harbor, despite the fact that JJML serves the whole of the Sag Harbor School District, Creedon said was simply the result of available commercial space with adequate parking. She said the board remains open to options elsewhere in the school district.

“For me it is a small benefit if I am within walking distance of 201 Main Street during construction,” said Creedon. “For me it would be logistically easier; but if there is an adequate space elsewhere I would be happy to take a look at it.”

Plans for the renovation and expansion of the John Jermain Memorial Library are expected to be reviewed by the Sag Harbor Village Planning Board, which meets next on Tuesday, January 26 at 5:30 p.m.

New Year Review for Library

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The Village of Sag Harbor’s review of a proposed expansion and restoration of the historic John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) will continue in the New Year as the library attempts to answer a punch list of questions brought up after a preliminary planning board meeting in November.

The planning board and Sag Harbor’s environmental planning consultant Richard Warren, of Inter-Science Research Associates, have asked the library for more information on their plans for parking, landscape and lighting plans for the proposed, and voter approved, 7000 square-foot addition to JJML. They have also asked the library to begin discussions with the Sag Harbor Village Board of Trustees over a proposal to extend the village’s sewer line to the new library and consider making Union Street, adjacent to the Main Street property, a one-way road to accommodate new parking spaces.

The next Sag Harbor Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 26 at 5:30 p.m.

Concerns Emerge as John Jermain Memorial Library Expansion Begins its Review

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John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon addresses the planning board at its Tuesday, November 24 meeting.

After just one work session in what is expected to be an extensive review of the proposal to renovate, restore and expand the historic John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML), the village planning board identified several potential hurdles surrounding parking, setbacks and the extension of the village sewer system to accommodate the new library space.

On Tuesday, November 24 the planning board held a work session on the library proposal, which was approved for $10 million in funding by members of its library district – defined by the Sag Harbor Union Free School District boundaries – in June. The project will repair and restore JJML, which was first constructed in 1910, and add a three-story, 7,000 square-foot addition at the rear of the historic landmark.

JJML Director Catherine Creedon opened the meeting by giving the board a quick overview of the library’s decade-long crusade for an expanded library in Sag Harbor, which culminated in June’s referendum with 84 percent of votes cast favoring the library board’s proposal.

Creedon noted that since the library board first began its quest, library membership has grown, a trend that she added began in 1987 with the introduction of computers in the library.

Creedon said with this growth, collections are overcrowded, program space is lacking and the library is unable to meet demand for its print and computer resources. In addition to increasing spaces for programming, historic preservation and for the library’s collection, the expansion enables the library to restore the historic building. It will also improve the mechanical systems including electrical and heat and air systems, which Creedon currently has to personally jump start on cold winter mornings, and bring the library into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, make the three floors handicap accessible and bring it into line with standards for libraries in the State of New York.

Newman Architects principal Richard Munday said from a design standpoint, his firm hopes to create an addition that would not take away from the original, historic structure. He acknowledged the library is aware they will require variances from the zoning board of appeals for setbacks, as well as a variance for the height of the addition, although the addition does not exceed the height of JJML as it stands today. The addition will be made of masonry, glass and metal.

“What we attempted to do was draw the addition in as much as possible so our intrusions, beyond the setback lines and beyond the skyline, are as small as possible,” said Munday.

David Emilita, the library’s environmental consultant, outlined a brief plan to deal with traffic and parking concerns – an issue former library board president and current planning board member Greg Ferraris noted has been one of the top concerns of residents during the decade-long debate over what was the appropriate way to expand JJML.

Currently, said Emilita, the library is 56 spaces short and with the expansion will need an additional 28 spaces on top of that. Emilita said the library intended to meet with the village ZBA to address this issue. However, said Emilita, traffic studies taken in 2003 and 2009 show that two-thirds of library patrons are not just visiting the library when they drive to JJML, but are traveling to other destinations. The percentage of people who drive to the library has also dropped during that period, said Emilita, while the number of patrons who bike or walk to JJML has increased.

“So we are seeing a shift,” he said.

According to Emilita, the library would like to work with village trustees to explore introducing parking on Union Street and making that road one way, moving west towards Main Street. It would also like to explore having additional village parking spaces striped on Main Street and other adjoining streets.

Both JJML land use attorney Gil Flanagan and library board of trustees members closed the presentation by asking the board to expedite the review of the project through scheduling extra meetings for the planning board and other village boards who will review the plan.

“We are in a way a municipal project, funded through tax dollars,” said Peterson, adding the longer the review takes, the more it will cost.

Another plan proposed by the library includes abandoning their existing septic system and petitioning the village board of trustees to extend the Sag Harbor Sewer District 282-feet to enable JJML to connect with the sewage treatment plant. The Suffolk County Health Department encouraged the conversion, said Emilita.

Sag Harbor Village Environmental Planning Consultant Richard Warren said he believed a provision of the village sewer law required any property owner in the service area to hook up to the system.

“We should understand what happens with those property owners as the district gets extended,” advised Warren.

Ferraris said the cost of hooking up any residences as a result of the extension may fall on the shoulders of JJML and urged the library to approach the board of trustees on that issue as well as the issue of creating new parking spaces in the village and making Union Street a one-way street.

“Parking and traffic were the biggest issues we dealt with at the time [he was library board president],” cautioned Ferraris.

Warren also asked Creedon what kind of dialogue the library has had with the two rear adjacent property owners.

Creedon said the library has been in regular contact with the Jefferson Street neighbor, Ann Castaldo.

“I believe she still has concerns, but I also believe she feels grateful to the library for keeping her in the loop every step of the way,” said Creedon, noting plans were scaled back on that side of the expansion in deference to Castaldo.

A limited liability corporation, said Creedon, now owns the Union Street property, the principals of which she has been unable to reach despite numerous attempts.

Warren noted village engineer Paul Grosser will need to review all plans for the project, including the sanitation proposal, and the board should expect a report from him. Tammy Cumha, a representative from Grosser’s office, said the engineer already has preliminary concerns, specifically about the proposed 3.5-foot setback on a section at the rear of the property.

“[That setback] is a concern with the New York State building code and also with the fire commissioner for access and safety in order to get emergency vehicles around there if necessary,” she said.

Munday said he was aware of the problem and would explore whether the project would need a variance from the state.

The library project will continue to meet with village boards next month. It is currently scheduled on the December 10 historic preservation and architectural review board calendar, as well as at the next planning board meeting on December 22.

John Jermain Memorial Library Expansion Readies for Village Review

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After years of debate and a lost referendum, the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) Board of Trustees earned a clear mandate for a restoration and expansion of its historic, Sag Harbor library in June with 84 percent of votes cast in favor of the project. Five months later trustees will have another hurdle to jump before they can break ground as the Village of Sag Harbor begins its formal review of a plan that almost doubles the size of the current library.

On Tuesday, November 24 that review will begin in a work session with the village planning board. According to John Jermain Memorial Library Director Catherine Creedon, land use attorney Gil Flanagan, environmental consultant David Emilita, representatives from the library’s contractor Sandpebble Buildings and its architects, Newman Architects will join her and members of the JJML board of trustees in making the formal presentation.

“We are bringing so many people because we want to be able to answer any questions the planning board may have for us and respond to anything they may want us to do before it comes up as a full agenda item,” said Creedon on Tuesday.

Being a work session, public comment will not be taken at this meeting, but Creedon said she welcomes any ideas or questions by members of the library district.

“I certainly would welcome the public at the meeting and certainly after next Tuesday anyone is welcome to come to me and review the materials we presented,” she said.

Following Tuesday night’s planning board work session, the library project is also slated as a discussion item on the Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board’s December 10 agenda. Creedon said she was unsure when the library project would be introduced to the zoning board of appeals. All three boards must approve the project in order for it to move forward.

The library has already received one nod of approval from The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation this July. That agency determined the proposed restoration and addition “will have no adverse impact on the historic and cultural resources of Sag Harbor.”

In June, public support for the expansion and restoration of JJML reached an all-time high, with overwhelming approval of a $9,987,500 referendum for the library’s plan. The project entails repairs to JJML, first constructed in 1910, as well as a three-story 7,000 square foot addition at the rear of the historic landmark.

Restoration of an aged library building and bringing the current building to code is at the core of the library’s plan, with roughly $2.5 million of the $10 million price tag slated to cover the cost of the expansion alone.

The restoration will enable to the library to address structural issues that have led to scaffolding around the historic site – to protect patrons from falling masonry – as well as a number of leaks throughout the building, which have led to extensive water damage.

Trustees have long called for an expansion of JJML in order to comply with state building codes by the addition of an elevator for handicap accessibility and a second flight of stairs, as well as a new heating and air conditioning system – both of which are outdated and inefficient, according to Creedon. The library also hopes to connect up to the village’s sewer system.

The expansion will also allow the library to expand its services – for children, teens, seniors and the community at large. The three-story expansion allows for larger program and office space, a climate controlled archive for Sag Harbor’s historic documents and artifacts, dedicated areas for children and teens, a business center, a community room with art gallery space, and the return of a contemplative reading and study space in the third floor rotunda. That space, still outfitted with its original tiger-oak furniture is proposed to be restored in its entirety, down to the layout of chairs and tables and by bringing back to life a long dormant fireplace.

The plan has changed very little since voters approved it in June. The expansion has a modern design, primarily made of glass. Creedon said the scale of the addition has been pulled back on the Jefferson Street side of the library, but that otherwise very little has physically changed from what was approved.

A landscaping plan, designed by Beth Franz of Quinnell, Rothschild and Partners has also been submitted to the village, and Creedon said Franz created a design incorporating historic trees with new, local species. Low-mow grass was also used to cut down on the library’s water usage.

“For me, personally, the landscape plan becomes another document for the library – part of our history collection in a sense,” said Creedon.

On Tuesday, Creedon gave credit to the village’s building department for aiding her as she compiled crates of documentation for the various village boards, noting one site plan was refined just this week to ensure it complied completely with the village’s newly adopted zoning code.

“The library is welcoming the participation of the boards and the public as we move forward with this project because this library will be an integral part of the fabric of Sag Harbor,” said Creedon. “We welcome this dialogue.”