The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) has given Sag Harbor’s John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) the green light to move forward with plans to expand the historic Main Street building.
During a JJML board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, August 19 JJML director Cathy Creedon announced the library had been given the go-ahead by the state to proceed with plans to nearly double the size of the library. In June, Sag Harbor Union Free School District voters approved a nearly $10 million referendum to expand the facility.
According to Creedon, as JJML is a “contributing building within the National Register-listed Sag Harbor Historic District,” by law, OPRHP must review the proposed building program before any changes or additions are made. Creedon sent out a packet to the state agency just days after the referendum’s passage, and received word at the end of July that OPRHP was content with the plan and did not believe it would have an adverse impact on the historic or cultural resources of Sag Harbor.
“Failure to get the ‘No Negative Impact’ statement held up the Jefferson Street ramp for a number of years, and I hope that this provisional okay this early in the process will help with the required permits,” said Creedon.
After receiving that letter from the state, in late July Creedon met with Chris Barletta and Victor Conseco from Sandpebble Builders, the project construction managers, as well as architects Michael Scott, Richard Munday and Erin Gallagher from Newman Architects, which will design the proposed modern, glass 7000 square-foot addition. With surveyors, the library’s land use attorney Gil Flanagan and library board president Diane Gaites in tow, the group met with Sag Harbor Village Attorney Anthony Tohill, the village’s environmental planning consultant Richard Warren, as well as Sag Harbor Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) Chairman Cee Scott Brown and Planning Board Chairman Neil Slevin in preparation for what is expected to be an arduous permitting process.
According to Creedon, the meeting covered a variety of issues including parking, the creation of a parking study, site survey, permitting and environmental review requirements the library will have to meet. Creedon said fieldwork on the site survey, the first step, has begun and bids have been sent out for both a hazardous materials consultant and a parking consultant.
“One thing I came away with is the feeling it is not going to be an easy process,” said Gaites last Wednesday.
As diligent as the board was in ensuring the passage of June’s referendum, Gaites said the same commitment would be needed to get through this permitting process, particularly in ensuring public support for the project at village meetings.
“It is important to get the public on board,” said Gaites.
On Tuesday, Creedon said she hoped the permit process would begin in November or December at the latest.
In other library news, JJML has hired a new research librarian Jessica Frankel to join the staff on a part time basis. Creedon said Frankel will help her work on the expansion of history room materials – a key element in her long-range goals for JJML.
“She has a varied background, with experience as a high school English teacher, a research librarian on Wall Street, a job search counselor for the Brooklyn Public Library and a reference library at the Cutchogue Library,” said Creedon.