To The Editor:
In reference to your column, “One for the Books,” which ran August 23, 2018, I must say I am disheartened by the lack of support being given to our community library.
As a longtime user of the Peninsula Public Library, I know how precious a well supported library is to the community. We all know that in its current space, PPL cannot actualize its potential to be a major hub of learning, inspiration and community that our district deserves.
You write that the tax expenditure is more than $25 million, but this breaks down to less than $200 per taxpaying household. Considering the average tax bill in our neighborhood, that isn’t significant.
Additionally, you write in one sentence that the planned location “will disrupt a quiet, mostly residential area” and then in the next paragraph mention that the location in question is “most of what is currently the Long Island Rail Road Lawrence station parking lot.” This location is also across the street from Lawrence Town Hall, down the block from a seminary and the post office and adjacent to Zion Park. This hardly describes an area that would not support a public building. It is on Central Avenue, a major thoroughfare with access to bus transport.
You write that it is “unclear at this point whether all negotiations and jockeying for position took place in the shadows” but your own paper shed light on this process in an article that ran on September 20, 2017 (“Library and Village Enter Into Zion Park Site Contract”).
You write that “the well meaning members of the library board of directors give an impression of being in a quandary they did not anticipate’ and that it ‘seems that there was some kind of agreement signed between the Village of Lawrence and the library that effectuates the sale.” If this “kind of agreement” is what is commonly known as a contract, I’m not sure why you imply that our Library Board of Directors is behaving in a way that is less than open and honest.
I wonder why this site is now considered problematic. This discussion has been going on for some time with the investment of time, energy and yes, lots of taxpayer money, to survey and plan. If the Town of Lawrence has signed a contract giving the Library Board of Directors a clear message that the space is an appropriate one for our library, why is it now being questioned?
I know that no one wants construction in his own backyard, but community spaces require construction. At some point mustn’t we consider the good of the community and not just the defense of our personal desires? To begin anew, in terms of finding another space, means another commitment of time and money. The only downside to the current plan is possibly “not enough parking.” Welcome to the Five Towns.
Personally, I would rather have a beautiful building large enough to accommodate our library needs, which would still have 50 percent more parking that we current have at PPL, than nothing. I am truly saddened that your paper did not take a more supportive stance.
– Chaya Levitz