The public will have its first opportunity to see more detailed concepts for library expansion and ask the architects and planners questions at a 10 a.m. forum Saturday at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center, 56 Rock City Road, Woodstock.
The firm ADG Cohn, hired to update the library’s master plan, presented four options for expansion to the board on November 19. The board spent about an hour at a special meeting December 5 to iron out just how the public will be able to weigh in on the plans.
Concerned about time constraints, several board members raised concerns about allowing the public to speak at all, saying the Saturday meeting is for the firm to present its ideas. The public could then digest the information and come back to the board at a later date with questions or comments.
Trustee Barry Miller said there had already been several surveys and a number of people attending meetings. Trustee George Finsrud said it “might be a mistake” to assume input representative of the whole community could be accomplished by opening the floor to comments. Trustee Elaine Hammond said there won’t be time unless any public comment is strictly moderated. “Limit them to questions, not pontifications,” Hammond said.
Trustee and Building Committee Chair Jill Fisher said the public can comment later. “We can have a two- or three-hour public-be-heard session once they understand what all the options are,” Fisher said.
But others said the public must have input at Saturday’s meeting in the interest of transparency. “That’s how it’s been communicated. We’ve been so transparent and so good so far,” Vice President Dorothea Marcus said. “I’d just hate for there to be backlash from a few people,” she said, adding there is time for the public comment period if it is managed properly.
Trustee Selma Kaplan said she doesn’t want people “to ever think we have an agenda,” even if it were clear a public comment period would be set aside at a later date.
“Two hours is enough if we treat our public like they’re intelligent people and not 6th-graders,” Trustee Jesse Jones said.
“The public has to be involved,” said Councilwoman and Town Board library liaison Cathy Magarelli when asked by the board how the town generally handles people who attend meetings. She added that the presentation should be kept to an hour, or an hour and 15 minutes at most or people get antsy. “They don’t want to know the minutiae,” she said, adding people want to know the basics, such as how much it will cost and how any bonding will affect their taxes.
The board ultimately agreed to have the firm take questions written on index cards made available at the beginning of the meeting so the architects can incorporate the questions into their presentation. Time will be reserved at the end for any verbal questions from the audience. Cards will be available at the end in case people have questions that can be answered at a later time based on what they heard and saw during the meeting. The concepts and descriptions will be made available at woodstock.org and people can submit questions online.
More refined concepts
The concepts include the status quo, which involves renovating the existing building at a cost of $765,000, fixing the book barn and adding an elevator in the renovation for $1.4 million, building onto the north side for $3.7 million, building in front with a courtyard for $4.4 million and demolishing and replacing everything for $5.5 million.
All options include renovating the existing space and would yield up to 15,000 square feet, depending on the configurations.
Library Planner Alex Cohen and Architect Harvey Cohn of ADG Cohn plan to present more refined concepts than what was available to the board on November 19. Saturday’s meeting will also include more in-depth explanation of the proposed book castle, which is a two- to three-story tower that allows more compact book storage through automated transport, allowing more space for meetings and events.
The meeting will be held December 10 from 10 a.m. to noon in at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center, 56 Rock City Road.