Those opposed seemed to echo support of the library in general, but appear aghast at the project’s scope and the manner in which the board is bypassing regular permitting authorities.For the second Woodstock Library Board of Trustees meeting in a row, residents packed the library reading room April 17 to voice opposition and support of the proposed $1.5 million annex on the site of the former Woodstock Laundromat. The meeting saw some pleading for civility, while another threatened legal action.
“The staff and the volunteers do a wonderful job. There’s no question about that,” said Hera, a member of the town Commission for Civic Design and an increasingly vocal annex opponent. “But I do dislike the library board’s refusal to follow the standard town protocol for going before the Planning Board, the Zoning Board, the Environmental Commission and the Civic Design Commission. If the library board will consent to standard process and protocol, this entire debate could reach the enlightened state of negotiation and the dissension would subside immediately…
“C’mon Stuart. You can do this. Let’s go to the next level and work together. What do you have to lose,” Hera asked, addressing board President Stuart Auchincloss.
The current $1.5 million library annex design by Joel Sanders Architect calls for a 2,050-square-foot building at the site of the former Woodstock Laundromat across Library Lane that includes a 65-seat meeting space that can be divided into smaller areas, a “maker-space” workshop, two unisex bathrooms, a small kitchen, storage room, front and rear decks and a roof deck. The library purchased the laundromat property at a foreclosure sale for $71,000 from privately raised funds. The board plans to embark on a massive campaign to raise funds for the construction costs.
The board sought and received a memorandum of understanding from the Town Board citing its status as a taxing authority that would allow them to bypass normal channels. Hera and many others believe that authority doesn’t hold legal water and they may resort to legal action to force the library board to seek normal approvals. “We are interviewing lawyers now,” Hera told Auchincloss at the meeting.
That comment did not sit well with resident Tim Moore, who later in the meeting urged better communication and civility. Moore, who said he has met with members of the opposition and with library director Amy Raff, said there are “good people” on both sides, but a wall has gone up between them.
“If you’re talking to lawyers and you want to send up the rockets and attack the ramparts on this thing, you can do so and the newspapers will love it,” Moore said. “When you start waving lawyers at it, I think you’re really doing a disservice to the town and a disservice to the people who have put a lot of effort into this.”