Tag Archive | "Newman Architects"

John Jermain Memorial Library Earns Final Approvals

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John Jermain

For most people in Sag Harbor, Monday was a normal fall day — the weather turning from grey and foggy to hot and muggy, children pouring in and out of school, families strolling down Main Street in the afternoon, running errands, collecting groceries.

But for Catherine Creedon, Monday was a day she has been waiting for since she was hired as the director of the John Jermain Memorial Library in 2007. It was the day Creedon could walk back to the library’s temporary home on West Water Street and tell her staff that the library had just received the last approval, from the last board, to restore and expand its historic Main Street facility.


On Monday, the John Jermain Memorial Library earned approval from the Sag Harbor Village Historic Preservation and Architectural Review Board (ARB) to add a 7,725 square-foot, modern addition to the rear of its 101-year-old Main Street building. The same day, just hours earlier, Creedon reported the library was also granted permission for an on-site septic system by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services.

The library had originally hoped to hook up to the Sag Harbor Village wastewater treatment plant, rather than install their own on-site septic system. However, after neighbors — who would have also been forced to hook up to the village treatment plant — expressed concerns, village officials denied the library’s request.


The small size of the library’s 201 Main Street parcel, and the fact that the village has a wastewater treatment plant, made a Suffolk County Health Department approval difficult at best. However, with the help of the village board — which donated an acre of land off the Sag Harbor/Bridgehampton Turnpike that will be preserved — the library was able to finally gain its approvals this week.

Sag Harbor School District residents approved nearly $10 million in funding for the project in August of 2009. The two approvals were the last the library needed to move forward with its plans after an arduous two-year village review.

On Monday evening, the library’s architect, Michael Scott of Newman Architects, reflected on the design of the addition noting that after several years of considering a second library at Mashashimuet Park, in 2009 the JJML board heard the community’s desire to keep the whole library on its historic site.

Wanting to keep the addition as one that allows the original library, constructed by Mrs. Russell Sage, to stand out and not be overshadowed by an expansion that will more than double the size of JJML, Scott said his firm chose the masonry and glass modern design for the addition.

“Our library distinguishes itself from the existing library in that it is more like a library built at the turn of this century, rather than the library that was built at the turn of the last century,” said Scott.

The goal, he said, was to tuck the new library behind the rear of the existing building, matching the limestone color on the new addition to the existing limestone on the historic library. Large glass windows face out towards Main Street and on Union and Jefferson streets. Scott said the design is meant to simulate the experience of sitting on a porch, looking out at the historic library and Sag Harbor beyond that.

A plaza will be shaped into the ground next to what is now the first floor entry to the three-story library and will be outfitted with free Wifi and computer jacks.

Inside, the first floor will be reconfigured to hold children’s services, offering easy access through the plaza off Jefferson for parents and caregivers toting children in and out of the library. The ground floor will also offer a program room and the teen collection.

The second story, where patrons have traditionally entered the library through its front door, will be completely restored with adult collections displayed there, along with a main circulation desk, a periodical reading room, reference desk, multimedia areas, gallery space and offices.

The third floor rotunda — the interior architectural gem of JJML — will also be fully restored, with original furniture, to its 1910 layout, including a working fireplace. It will be a contemplative reading and study space for the community, and will also hold the library’s first climate controlled history room and archive.

According to Creedon, the whole of the project should be completed in 18 months.

“I think it is wonderful,” said Cee Scott Brown, chair of the ARB. “It is really beautiful. That is going to put Sag Harbor on the map.”

“I think you are doing pretty good so far,” replied Scott.

In other ARB news, James and Pia Zenkel were approved for a gingerbread-inspired, white picket fence and gate at their 71 Jermain Avenue residence.

While architect Anthony Vermandois requested the Zenkels be allowed to construct the fence in painted azek, a composite, rather than wood, ARB member Bethany Deyermond reminded Vermandois that the village code demands wood be used for construction in the historic district.

The next meeting of the Sag Harbor ARB will be held on October 13 at 5 p.m.

New Year Review for Library

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web Site Plan

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.

John Jermain Attempts to Balance Expansion With the Economy

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The John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) Board of Trustees has scheduled a public referendum in June to ask district residents for a second time to approve a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion plan. But with the reality of a troubled economy on the board’s mind, it appears they will float a scaled back expansion plan at the existing library, and may offer voters a choice on whether they would like a second library near Mashashimuet Park.

“There really is broad support for the library right now,” said JJML director Catherine Creedon on Tuesday. “We are being used extensively, but in the community interaction we have had, it has become clear people are concerned about the economy and the board would not want to risk a referendum that would fail.”

Five years ago the library failed to gain voter approval for an $8 million expansion plan that included a new library at a triangle shaped property owned by the library near Mashashimuet Park. Since then, the library and its board has undergone a series of changes, with Creedon stepping in as the new director a year-and-a-half ago — around the same time the board abandoned a local architecture firm it had been working with and started again from scratch. A new round of community meetings was held, first to select Newman Architects of New Haven, Conn. to design the project, and secondly to discern what the community wants and needs in a library.

On Monday, April 20, the board gathered in the rotunda at JJML to offer a “progress report” on draft concepts they will use in coming weeks to construct a final plan and cost analysis. The board was expected to meet in executive session on Wednesday night to discuss the community’s reaction to the presentation. On Wednesday, May 6, the final proposal and price tag will be unveiled and the referendum has been scheduled for June 29.

Draft plans unveiled on Monday show an expansion on the rear of JJML, which according to Creedon would accommodate program space, offices and space for the library’s collection. By law, the library would also need to be brought up to code, American with Disabilities Act compliance and meet New York State standards for libraries, which involves repairs and maintenance on the historic structure, addressing an antiquated heating and air system and the addition of a second staircase and elevator.

Victor Conseco, of Sandpebble Builders, which is developing the cost analysis of the plan, showed slides of the existing library which painted a grim portrait of a building in need of a new roof, plaster, masonry, windows, as well as space for collections, new media and offices. According to Conseco, the ventilation in the library is so poor that half way through his presentation a portable carbon dioxide monitor showed levels exceeding what would be considered a healthy standard.

A three-story expansion at the existing library, according to Creedon, could range anywhere from 2,000 square feet to 6,000 square feet of additional space depending on the direction the board chooses to take.

Creedon also showed preliminary plans for a second building at Mashashimuet Park. If approved by voters, this building would house a state-of-the-art archival facility to protect what the director noted are historic documents at risk in the existing library due to humidity and temperature control issues. The park library would also boast rooms which Creedon said could be used for both library and community programs, as well as reading spaces and a computer lab. Periodicals would also be housed at the Mashashimuet Park site. Thirty to 36 parking spaces would be created to accommodate visitors.

The concept of separating services at the library revolves around the idea that JJML currently brings in families, and keeping children and adult collections together is a way to ensure that multi-generational activity continues.

According to Conseco, who declined to throw out estimated figures on the cost of either project, if the referendum is approved in June the design and planning phase of the project would run through much of 2010, with construction beginning that fall. The library project is not estimated to be complete until mid-2012.

Creedon said on Tuesday that despite the board’s commitment to the long-term master plan that called for a large expansion in order to accommodate current services, she believes they will move forward with either a conditional referendum or a phased referendum.

In a conditional referendum, residents would be asked to vote on whether the library should move forward with the necessary repairs at the existing library as well as an expansion to that facility. Residents could select a second option where they could elect to have the second library at the park built in addition to the work at the existing library. The third choice would be to do nothing at all.

A phased referendum would only seek to have work done at JJML with a modest expansion.

“To bring this building up to code and to put an addition on would allow myself and my colleagues to run an amazing library for the community,” said Creedon on Tuesday. “We wouldn’t have everything we have at 425 Main Street [the Mashashimuet site], but maybe this is not the era for everything.”

According to Creedon, the board will take the public comments and questions from Monday’s session and a final cost analysis from Conseco into consideration before settling on a final plan to bring to district residents on May 6.

If Monday night’s crowd is any indication, residents are pleased with the direction the board has taken. Rob Calvert thanked the board for delivering a successful range of options for the community to consider.

“I voted no the last time,” said Jackie Brody. “That was a bad plan. This is a good plan. I think a lot of people who voted no on the last one will vote yes on this one.”

Image below shows draft layout of library building as it could appear on lot adjacent to Mashashimuet Park. Image at bottom shows draft layout of main floor of historic building at 201 Main Street with 3-story expansion at the rear of the building.


Library Decides to Go Ahead with Referendum

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It has been nearly three months since the John Jermain Memorial Library (JJML) hosted a community workshop to generate ideas on a future renovation and/or relocation of the library. At the previous meeting, held in early December, workshop participants laid out three different options for the future of the library: renovating and expanding the existing space, renovating the existing building and constructing a new building on a parcel of land — owned by the library — near Mashashimuet Park, or moving all of the library services to a building on the plot near the park.
In December, architect Michael Scott, of Newman Architects, said the library would be ready with plans by March, but now JJML director Cathy Creedon says preliminary plans will be presented to the public on April 20. The plans will include several different architectural options. In light of the economic crisis, the library needed an extra few weeks to “really make sure we were pursuing the best plans for the community,” said Creedon.
On April 20, Creedon said the library will have rough budgetary figures for each design option. By the second meeting, scheduled for May 6, Creedon expects the board to winnow down the plan options, decide upon materials and furnishings and present specific cost estimates. Creedon added the final option will be up for a referendum by late June or early July.
Although the economics of the project is a chief concern for the board, JJML board vice-president Christiane Neuville said the referendum couldn’t be postponed because of the state of the existing building. A number of consultants, including a mechanical and plumbing engineer and an historic building preservationist, were hired by Newman Architects to visit the building and compile a laundry list of necessary repairs.
The consultants found the building’s wiring is non-conforming, the boiler system is functioning at a compromised level and the emergency systems lack proper lighting, fire pulls and sprinklers. In addition, the roof hasn’t been replaced since the 1950s. The cast-iron drain pipes from the roof to the ground are consistently blocked, forcing the water to go through the library’s walls. Creedon said there are often leaks throughout the building, including a leak over the computer area in the basement.
“The consultants’ recommendation was that this building is in need of immediate attention,” said Creedon. The compromised condition of the building is further exacerbated by an increased demand for library services. According to Creedon, over the past year library usage has increased by 23 percent.
The next public meeting on the library’s options will be held on Monday, April 20 at the John Jermain Memorial Library, 201 Main Street, at 5:15 p.m.

Above: The iron piping is exposed in the basement floor of the library, and is a constant source of leaks.

Community Wants “More” From John Jermain Memorial Library

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Some of the 44 people who attended Saturday morning’s forum on the future of the John Jermain Memorial Library may have initially felt they were experiencing déjà vu, as they were urged, once more, to discuss the state of services at Sag Harbor’s public library, rather than where and how big any expansion to the historic institution should be.

Regardless, following the three-hour session, John Jermain Memorial Library Director Cathy Creedon said one thing was certain – people wanted more from their community library.

“That was the key word as I went over my own notes – more,” said Creedon on Wednesday. “It was really remarkable to me as I look through them. People asked for more quiet space, more programs, more services for working parents, more activities and services for seniors, more books, more parking, more hours, just more. That single word really sums it up.”

The John Jermain Memorial Library has been struggling to address its needs for several years now, with a failed $8 million referendum to build a new library at Mashashimuet Park in 2004.

In looking towards a new referendum, the board of trustees ultimately tapped Newman Architects, a New Haven, Connecticut firm this June.

They were charged “to work with the library director, the board, the staff and the community to design a building program that will best serve the Sag Harbor community’s library needs.”

The wording of their charge was a marked departure from the library board’s previous commitment to one library, two buildings – the second building still slated for a triangle shaped parcel next to the park – giving the new architects latitude to discover what it was the Sag Harbor community sought in a library.

On Saturday, Newman Architects and the board of trustees embarked on the first of what will be a series of community forums about the library. The goal of the meeting was to focus on library services, rather than space and location, which has been the focus of virtually every discussion regarding the library in recent years.

“I think it is going to be very important that you pass the word along that we need to hear your voices,” said Creedon to the crowd, almost half of which was comprised of board and staff members. “If we do this, I promise you there will not be voices lost in the wilderness.”

“What we are here to do today is to try and hear the community and give the community a chance to get to know us,” said architect Richard Munday.

 According to architect Michael Scott, the charter of the John Jermain Memorial Library expanded from a book repository into a greater community resource early in its history. The current library was built in 1910.

“Already rather than a repository, it was thought of as a cultural icon,” said Scott. “This was a nexus for the community.”

On one hand, the library currently is an archive and on the other hand has strong community outreach initiatives, noted Scott, and is continuing to expand its services.

The firm has already broken down the current layout and use of the library, which they noted is both well loved and well utilized. Munday noted that it was only 10 years after the library was built that space was cited as an issue, but said he would rather the group focus their energy on discussing what the needs of the library are rather than cost and space.

“Think about what this library can be as a gift to you and your children,” he said.

Sag Harbor resident Mac Griswold said the community had been through “many of the dreaming episodes with the library.” What she wants, she said, is a demographic look at how the population will grow in the next 20 years.

“This is about describing needs, not extents,” said Munday.

The larger group split into four focus groups to discuss specifically the current state of services at the library, what they liked, what they disliked and what they would like to see in the future. At the close of the forum, each group presented their findings to the architects, who will in turn come back to Sag Harbor on December 6 and present a possible future program for John Jermain Memorial Library at the second community meeting.

 “This was really about the library’s mission, but because the mission has been embodied in the building, the conversation did tend to gravitate to the building itself,” he acknowledged.

The presence of the building as a community icon was important to all groups, he said.

“The most mission-specific was a unanimous like of the mix of users and services at the library,” he said.

Space was another issue everyone seemed to agree on, he said, most specifically that the library needs more of it and that it needs to be more accessible.

Creedon said a diverse range of opinions was on tap during the forum’s final discussion, agreeing the inter-generational feel of the current library was beloved by many.

“I do wish there would have been more participation, more people there,” admitted Creedon. “I thought it was a great first meeting, but I do wish more people had been there. While there were 26 people who represented different ranges of the community, we needed more members to generate the kind of variety we were hoping for.”

At the next forum, she said, the library staff has already discussed hosting the event at the library instead of the high school and offering child care to any one in need, as well as teleconferencing to allow everyone an opportunity to participate.

Scott said the firm would take the community suggestions on services and craft it into a projected future program to be shared with the community on December 6.

“The core assignment is how to address this issue,” he said. “If everyone said we need more space, we have to try and figure out how we can address that.”

Top photo: Sag Harbor resident and school board member Mary Ann Miller talks about what she would like to see at an expanded John Jermain Memorial Library. Middle photo: Residents who attended Saturday’s forum on the future of library sat in break-out groups to brainstorm ideas. 


John Jermain Library To Host Forum on Future

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When the John Jermain Memorial Library Board of Trustees hired Newman Architects this past June, the firm was charged to work “with the library director, the board, the staff and the community to design a building program that will best serve the Sag Harbor community’s library needs.”

The wording was a departure from the board’s previously stated intention of looking towards a “one library, two building” plan with a second library building planned for a triangle shaped piece of property adjacent to Mashashimuet Park in Sag Harbor. On Tuesday, John Jermain Memorial Library Board Director Catherine Creedon noted the board was looking towards approaching the expansion with the goal of determining the needs of the community and what is truly the best way to move forward with expansion.

And on Saturday, the board and Newman Architects will attempt to begin to decipher just that at the first community forum regarding the library’s future.

From 9 a.m. to noon the board and architects will host the forum, open to the community, in the Pierson High School cafeteria. According to Creedon, Newman Architects will open the meeting with a presentation about the current state of the library, including statistics on circulation and services before the group will divide into smaller groups to discuss what they see for the future of John Jermain.

“What we are hoping is that this is an opportunity to share ideas about what people would like to see in the library – what they like, what they would like to see and maybe what is missing,” said Creedon, in terms of the collection and services available at the John Jermain.

From these discussions, Newman Architects will begin the process of shaping a solution based on the community’s idea of what future library needs will be.

On Saturday, December 6, said Creedon, the architects will return for a second forum to discuss ideas about space and location.

photo by r. odell-shapiro

“I do think one of the nice things about this format is it gives us the opportunity to celebrate library services without a discussion of space or location,” said Creedon. “I think we may find as a community we are in consensus on a number of levels.”