Voters to decide fate of GN library renovation plan

Dan Glaun

Voters will head to the polls Nov. 19 to weigh in on a bond for the Great Neck Library’s proposed $10.4 million renovation of the Main Branch at 159 Bayview Ave.

The plan is a second effort for the library’s board of trustees in recent years, which saw a more ambitious and costly expansion plan for the library’s Main Branch voted down by a wide margin in 2011.

The new project, Great Neck Library Board of Trustees President Marietta DiCamillo said, is both more cost-conscious and attentive to the concerns of residents.

“To me it’s the public’s plan. We spent two years putting this together. We heard what the public said in the last referendum and pretty much incorporated those elements,” DiCamillo said in an interview. “We didn’t make the same mistakes again. We started out with a defined budget and didn’t deviate much from it.”

The proposed renovation, which would include a revamp of the library’s interior and millions in infrastructure spending, is a scaled down alternative to a 2011 proposal for a $20.8 million expansion of the Main Branch. 

That plan was soundly defeated at the ballot box after a campaign by residents and former library trustees who criticized what they saw as an excessive tax hike.

The $10.4 million renovation would increase community space, open the design of the library, condense book storage and update the building’s infrastructure, according to the president of the project’s architectural firm.

The 40-year-old Main Branch needs fixes and updates, DiCamillo said, and the plan includes both infrastructure repairs and alterations designed to increase convenience for patrons.

“It’s greater flexibility in the spacing,’ DiCamillo said. “It’s making the building efficient and cost-conscious too.”

The plan – the seventh option prepared by KG&D after months of consultation with the library’s Building Advisory Committee – calls for an expanded diagonal entryway leading past reference and circulation desks to a bay window overlooking Udalls Pond, and includes a mezzanine overlooking the downstairs gallery.

The plan would also feature an larger community room by the main entrance to the building – a shift that Kaeyer said could allow public access to meeting space outside of normal business hours.

The children’s and young adult sections would see expanded floor space, and the children’s books would be moved entirely downstairs. Kaeyer said the new children’s section would feature its own check-out desk and would allow parents with strollers to access the library through the lower level without having to navigate stairs or elevators.

The project’s estimated $10.4 million budget, which library board members said could potentially change in response to public input, includes $4.25 million for infrastructure, $4.1 million for renovations, nearly a half million dollars in new construction and $878,000 in contingency funding.

The planned infrastructure changes include a new roof, new, better insulated windows, a revamp of the building’s HVAC system and new lighting. Davidson termed the project a “complete renovation.”

The construction is expected to result in up to a year’s closure for the Main Branch. The library also operates three branches.

Voting will take place from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Great Neck school district residents who live north of the Long Island Railroad Station can vote at Baker Hill Elementary School and residents who live south of the station can vote at Great Neck South High School.

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Dan Glaun

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