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Gold Coast Library moving ahead with bond vote

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Glen Head residents can vote on Tuesday on a $10.8 million bond for the Gold Coast Library to purchase a 2.5-acre property at 180 Glen Head Road to construct a new library.

If the bond passes, residents who own a home valued at $500,000 would likely see a $60 annual property-tax increase.

Members of Glenwood Landing American Legion Post 336, however, suggested an alternative. Post Commander Bob Bazan said the library’s board of trustees could instead buy the post’s property at 190 Glen Head Road, and the post could purchase the library’s current building, at 50 Railroad Ave. This, Bazan said, would cost the library about half as much as a new building, and would enable it to move into a larger space while helping the post downsize, which it must do because of declining membership.

The library proposed by the Gold Coast board of trustees would be roughly 10,500 square feet. The existing library is the smallest public library in Nassau County, at roughly 4,400 square feet. Bazan said the le-gion’s building and its detached garage add up to about 9,500 square feet, on one acre of land.

“They need more space, we need less space,” Bazan said. “For me, this really [would be] a win for the community, the library and the legion. The cost of this proposal would be substantially less than having the library build a brand new building.”

Library leaders, however, say they believe that a new building is the right way to go. Director Mike Morea said the new facility has been planned to suit the library’s needs. Among the reasons that a new library was recommended was the need for a larger parking lot, he said. The parking at the post’s building would not be enough, Morea said, and many of the surrounding lots belong to the Town of Oyster Bay and are used by the community for a number of purposes.

Bazan said that some of the post’s property could be converted into a parking lot if more space were needed.

Morea noted that the library proposed by the Gold Coast board would be one floor. That, he said, would enable the new library to keep the same number of staff as the old one, which would save money on salaries. The post’s building, he said, has two floors, which would require additional staffing.

Library Board President Nancy Benchimol said the logistics of a plan to purchase the post’s property do not add up. If the library were to buy the post’s building, it would need to be renovated entirely to function as a library. She also said parts of the property would have to be paved to increase parking, which would remove the possibility of an outdoor space, one of the key parts of the proposed new library’s plan.

Additionally, Benchimol said, the post would need its members to vote to sell the property. Bazan said that ballots were sent to the post’s 175 members, and the votes will be tallied on Dec. 22, two weeks after the library’s bond vote.

Post 336 member Fred Nielsen said he planned to vote for the proposal to sell the post. As much as post members love their building, he said, older veterans are dying and younger veterans are too busy to join the post. He said that a smaller building would be better suited to the post’s needs, and it would prevent the library from spending money on a new building.

“I think it’s very, very smart,” Nielsen said. “It can make what the library needs and make what the post needs less complicated. It’s very smart on the commander’s part to lead us in that direction.”

Benchimol said that the library could not wait for the post’s vote. She said that the owner of the property at 180 Glen Head Road wants to sell this year, and that delaying the bond vote could make it impossible for the library board to buy it. Additionally, she said, there is no other land in Glen Head on which a new library could be built.

Morea and Benchimol said that the board has worked on the current plan for a long time, and the bond would provide for the library’s needs at a relatively low cost to the taxpayer.

“My feeling is that our proposal takes care of the space requirements we want,” Benchimol said. “It allows for us to maintain the same staff we have now going forward, because it’s a one-story situation, and we [could have] the community rooms to be in operation when the library is closed because of the way it’s configured.”