At its board of trustees meeting on Feb. 27, the Baldwin Public Library announced plans to hold a public referendum in May on a redesign and renovation of the facility’s first and second floors and the replacement of the roof and climate systems, at a cost of $11.6 million.
“The library is confident the community will recognize the value in our proposal,” library Director Elizabeth Olesh said. “We are the one organization that serves all Baldwin residents of all ages, and our plans incorporate elements that speak to everyone.”
The project would also include new spaces and services for library patrons. The vote will accompany the Baldwin School District’s budget vote on May 16.
The cost of the library’s redesign was initially estimated to be about $5 million, which would have cost Baldwin taxpayers an extra $25 per year for 15 years. Under the new plan, residents would pay roughly $98 more per year.
“Libraries provide a tremendous range of services and resources for each tax dollar, and historically, Baldwin’s per-capita library tax has been much lower than many other libraries in Nassau,” Olesh said. “This referendum will enable us to do even more for Baldwin.”
Scott Faucheux, a local architect, said he was an enthusiastic supporter of the library’s plans, and added that he thought $11 million was a reasonable price to pay. “Were talking about $8 a month per household,” Faucheux said. “I think that’s a pretty reasonable amount of money for the upgrades and improvements were looking at. Baldwin as a whole is missing social spaces, so to see the opportunity for more social spaces is fantastic.”
The library’s plans, which can be viewed on its website, BaldwinPL.org, include a redesign of the children’s room to enlarge the play area and allow more sunlight into the room, a dedicated Baldwin history room, a larger arts and crafts room, a larger teen zone, a community room on the second floor as well as several individual and small group rooms for studying or remote work.
The library also plans to create a maker space with a 3D printer and other technology, a podcast and video room, a gaming room, more comfortable seating throughout the building and a new HVAC system to replace one that Olesh said “is at the end of its life.”
“So much has changed in the past two decades in the way people use libraries,” she said. “Every day we receive more requests for meeting spaces that we can accommodate from community groups in Baldwin. Its time Baldwin gets to the standards of other libraries today.”
The board initially announced its intention to offer a referendum on the redesign of a 7,900-square-foot undeveloped room on the library’s second floor at a special meeting on Oct. 3. Since then, library officials have offered an online survey, sent out newsletters, and hosted discussions at organizational meetings including the Chamber of Commerce to help them better understand what residents want from the library.
At a board meeting on Feb. 7, Olesh said the library had partnered with H2M Architects + Engineers, in Melville, to create preliminary designs for the first and second floors, which were featured in a presentation. These plans differed significantly from the initial focus on the second floor, and now reflect a complete overhaul and redesign of the facility.
For more information and details on the referendum, email firstname.lastname@example.org.