I’s been two years this month since voters in Highland approved a bond of up to $4.8 million to build a new library on an empty lot at 7 Elting Place in Highland. The project has benefitted from grants, including $450,000 secured by state Senator George Amedore ($200,000) and state Assemblyman Frank Skartados ($250,000), awarded through a state and municipal grant program that provides funding to help localities with capital projects and infrastructure improvements. But fundraising is still an ongoing concern in order to lower taxpayer obligation to the greatest extent. To that end, the Highland Library board has come up with a way that supporters of the library can contribute to its construction and have a lasting legacy in the community at the same time.
The new library will feature a walkway made of personalized, engraved paving bricks. They will be a permanent part of the property and a lasting way to honor one’s loved ones and show support for the project and community.
The cost for individuals is $75 for a four-inch by eight-inch tan brick with text only or $100 with clip art added (images of pets or an American flag, for example). An eight-inch-square tan brick is $150 with text only or $200 with clip art. Business have the option of purchasing a 12-inch-square brick with text or business logo for $500. A souvenir four-inch by four-inch replica tile, an exact replica of the brick, may be purchased for an additional $10.
Bricks will be located on the walkway surrounding and leading up to the flagpole at the new location.
Those wishing to preview what the bricks will look like may attend an event held on Thursday, March 9 at the Presbyterian Church Hall (next door to the current library) at 26 Church Street from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Samples of the paving bricks will be available to see with order forms provided. Consultants for the LuLaRoe “simply comfortable” clothing line of knit tops, bottoms, dresses and leggings are coordinating the event, and will be on hand to sell their garments with a portion of sales going to support the library. Baked goods will also be available for purchase from the Friends of the Highland Library group.
According to library director Julie Kelsall-Dempsey, spring on the horizon means construction on the new library will begin again soon. Construction was shut down for the month of February, and while a lot of the site work was accomplished before then, she said, the concrete footings weren’t all poured, so that will be the first thing tackled.
The library design by the architectural firm of Butler Rowland Mays Architects LLP will feature a reading porch at its entrance and a community room that can be cordoned off from the rest of the library and used during off-hours. Lead architect Paul Mays collaborated with library trustees and administrators from the beginning of the design process to solicit suggestions from residents through a series of community workshops. The firm specializes in library design developed with input from the communities they serve.
In Highland, residents expressed the desire for a library that will serve as a “hub” for the community with ample parking, handicapped access, comfortable seating, an increase in the collections, a community meeting room, a good children’s area, a teen space, display cases for art and local history, accommodation for technology and covered outdoor space.
The lot at 7 Elting Place is wooded, with a natural screening of mature trees that will be left in place to shield the neighbors. Additional plantings will also serve that purpose and trees will be planted in islands in the 34-vehicle parking area, providing visual unity with the mostly residential area. Lighting for the parking lot will be minimal and close to the ground to minimize light pollution spreading to the neighbors.
Entrance to the property is controlled for vehicular and pedestrian safety, with handicapped parking located right against the building without any need for exiting drivers or passengers to walk in front of traffic. A drop-off zone is located against the building just past the handicapped parking for the same reason.
The 10,250-square-foot building is designed so that as the community grows, so can the library, expanding back onto the 2.16-acre site without impacting the additional parking to be located at the back of the property. The parcel of land was purchased from the Archdiocese of New York for $125,000, with the advantage of already having been off the tax rolls, keeping taxpayer impact stable. The location is two-tenths of a mile from the library’s current location at 30 Church Street, where the 100-year-old Highland Public Library has been housed since February of 1930. The structure was deemed beyond economic feasibility to renovate. The building will be put up for sale with profits to act as a source of revenue for the new library.
Alan Barone of the Barone Construction Group of Highland is managing the work.
Visit the library’s website for more information at www.highlandlibrary.org.