The Gold Coast Library board of trustees last week announced plans to purchase land and build a new library at 180 Glen Head Road in Glen Head.
Library Director Mike Morea said the entire project should cost roughly $11.3 million. The library hopes to draft a $10.8 million bond to cover most of the cost. Board President Nancy Benchimol said the remaining $500,000 would come from the library’s capital fund.
George Pombar, president of the Glenwood-Glen Head Civic Association, said it had worked closely with the library during the planning process, helping it shape a deal with the property’s owners. If the bond were to pass, Pombar said, a Glen Head home valued at $600,000 would see a tax increase of roughly $100 to $120 per year. He added that the new library would likely add value to residents’ homes.
The building, Pombar said, would occupy the western half of the Glen Head Road property. Johnson Development Associates Inc., a South Carolina real estate developer, is seeking to purchase the rest of the property and turn it into a storage facility. The company presented its plans to the Oyster Bay Town Board last month; approval is still pending.
At 4,400 square feet, the existing library, at 50 Railroad Ave. in Glen Head, is the smallest public library in Nassau County. It also rents out space at 40 Railroad Ave., which serves as its annex. Morea said the library pays roughly $100,000 in rent per year for the annex alone. The main room of the annex can accommodate only 50 people, he said, which limits the number of events it can host.
Parking is also an issue, Morea said, because the library shares a lot with the Glen Head Long Island Rail Road station. Library patrons not only have to share the lot with commuters, but also run the risk of being fined for accidentally parking in reserved commuter spaces.
The new library, Morea said, would be roughly 30 percent larger than the current one, and more shelves would mean more inventory. There would also be outdoor space, he said, as well as an area dedicated to teens and a meeting space capable of holding 100 people. No new staff would need to be hired, and while operating costs would increase, they would likely be offset by the savings for no longer having to rent an annex.
“This building will have more space for people to study, meet and come together for lifelong community and education . . .,” Morea said. “That’s what the library is all about.”
Benchimol said that a bigger library had been the board’s dream since the existing facility opened on Aug. 1, 2005. Glen Head did not even have a library district until 2001, she said, and when the board purchased the building from Printstars Inc., it had to be raised by two feet to fit the children’s section in the basement. She said that she and the rest of the board are happy to finally have the chance opportunity to move forward with the project, but she added, time is of the essence.
“If we wait even longer, there’s no land and there’s no opportunity, so we’re really stuck,” Benchimol said. “I think the community really appreciates the library, and I think the community will support it. We’re not building a Taj Mahal and, economically, we will not be beholden to a landlord.”
Since the library would not have a landlord, Benchimol said, the community would own the property, and would be able to decide on its future. “This opportunity has come along, and we feel it’s very important that the community has a say, because anything that is going to be done is ultimately decided by the community,” she said. “I think, in terms of expansion or future of the library, the opportunity to vote for a bond referendum to build a new library is an opportunity the community now has to see what they want.”
Pombar said that a new library would be valuable to the community on several levels. Purchasing the property would prevent other developers from coming in and potentially increasing traffic in the area. A new parking lot would also help free up space for commuters at the Glen Head LIRR station. The Civic Association endorses the project, he said, and the feedback he has heard thus far from the community has been mostly positive.
Morea said he hoped the community could vote in a bond referendum by December. The board, he said, has scheduled several workshops to enable residents to learn more about the project and voice their opinions. They will be held remotely on Saturday, at 10 a.m., and Tuesday, at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Residents can register for the workshops on the library’s website.