Another step was taken to move the proposed new Peninsula Public Library project forward as the Lawrence School District Board of Education unanimously voted on July 9 to be the lead agency on issuing the $24 million bond that is expected to fund construction of a building on land by Zion Park in the Village of Lawrence.
“In a nutshell, the library requested that the school district issue bonds on their behalf and as such our lawyers advised us that in order to preserve the [state] law and our credit rating, the school district be declared the lead agency for the process and getting project final approval from the state, instead of merely acting as a rubber stamp,” said Lawrence Board of Education President Murray Forman.
In September, PPL and Lawrence village signed an agreement for the library to purchase roughly 30,000 square feet of land for $3.3 million. The sale is contingent on library district residents approving a public referendum to borrow the needed money. The date for the vote is yet to be officially set. Forman said that Oct. 16 was floated by library officials.
Library Director Carolynn Matulewicz said that 900 people responded to a recent survey PPL conducted and the response was “overwhelming, 95 percent,” in favor of voting yes on the referendum. “We are chartered by the school district, the building is owned by the library and when we sell the building the money could be used to pay down the bond debt or go to operating the new building,” she said.
Plans for the new library have yet to be unveiled, but sources familiar with the preliminary plans said that it would be a five-story building consisting of a basement, three floors, and roof top space for open-air events. A café is being planned and possibly nearly 50 parking spaces.
The new building would face Zion Park and have the children’s section closest to the part that includes playground equipment such as monkey bars, a slide and swings that accommodate children under 10, village officials said.
The village is also looking into making other spaces available nearby. PPL serves 34,000 people, has 17,900 cardholders, library officials said. The existing building at 280 Central Ave., in Lawrence, is 57-years-old, measures 13,500 square feet, and has 23 parking spaces. It is considered the smallest space per user of any library in the Nassau County Library System — .38 square feet per patron — according to report issued by the county system in 2008.
“We are definitely supporting the construction of a new library,” said Lawrence Mayor Alex Edelman.
Should the referendum be approved, the new location would be the library’s fourth. In 1932, what became known as the Peninsula Community Library, a fee-based center for school-age children, was established at 493 Central Ave. in Cedarhurst.
Four years later, the library expanded to a barn on Cedarhurst Avenue. In 1950, Lawrence district residents approved the creation of the Peninsula Public Library, and it opened a year later in a house on the site of the current building. That three-story building opened 56 years ago.
“As board members our job is to make sure that a fully vetted package is brought before the public,” Forman said.
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