Woodstock Library narrows the architect pool

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Woodstock Library trustees have chosen three architects who will compete for a contract to design a new $5 million building. Out of 12 submissions, trustees chose Janet Null of Argus Architecture & Preservation in Troy, Brad Will of Ashokan Architecture & Planning in Kingston and Stephen Tilly, Architect, of Dobbs Ferry. All will receive a $5000 honorarium to present a design concept and model to the public on August 25 at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center.

Trustees held a special meeting June 18 to narrow down the selections, but “several felt they needed to sleep on it,” Building Chair Jill Fisher said.

“It was difficult to pick the top three, given the high quality of the proposals,” board President Dorothea Marcus said. “We are confident that our finalists have the sensitivity and expertise to produce designs for our new library that will resonate with the Woodstock community. We also selected firms that were smaller scale and close by.” 

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Janet Null, president of Argus, has transformed a D&H train station in Altamont into a library and designed the renovation of the Wells Community Library in Upper Jay. Her firm, Argus, has 30 years experience designing new buildings.

Brad Will, principal of Ashokan Architecture, has designed civic, institutional and multifamily residential projects. He is know for the Woodstock Commons RUPCO housing project and the proposed Irish Cultural Center in Kingston’s Rondout district.

For his library proposal, Will collaborated with LaBella, a Delmar-based firm specializing in digital modeling of building plans.

Stephen Tilly in known for work on the restoration of the Maverick Concert Hall and provided an assessment of the Eames House for the Woodstock Historical Society.

He worked on the Chappaqua Library. In addition he has worked on historic district guidelines for Hudson Valley communities.

It’s budget time

Library trustees held the first of three budget discussions that are mandated before the spending plan is adopted and placed on the September ballot. Library Director Jessica Kerr proposed a $637,864 plan that represents a 3.06 percent increase from the current $618,917 budget. The projected tax levy increase is $8,297, or 1.44 percent, within the state’s tax cap. The difference comes mainly from a projected increase in donations from Friends of the Library, which funds the bulk of programs.

“It’s important to provide as many free programs as possible,” Kerr said. “The economic divide makes it tough for some people.” Kerr said it’s been interesting working on a yearly budget when a group is talking about dissolving the library district. “The impact on my work that it’s creating is vast,” she said.

A group, headed by former trustee John Ludwig, is circulating petitions to dissolve the library district over objections as to how trustees are handling a proposed library expansion. The group believes trustees are ignoring the will of the people who preferred a library renovation over a teardown and construction of a new building in a recent survey. It says the Library would then be converted to municipal facility governed by the Town Board. Trustees counter there is no guarantee that will happen. They have also said the survey was flawed and new construction is the most cost-effective option.

If the group gathers just over 450 signatures, a referendum to dissolve the district will be on the ballot in the fall.

Patrons want more library hours

Trustees have asked Kerr to come up with a proposal to open another day, something patrons have requested in feedback. The library is closed Sunday and Monday.

Taking into account the staff’s family and religious obligations, Kerr said Monday is more likely. To open another day, Kerr said she will likely propose additional part-time staff.

The budget also includes some increases for maintenance despite plans to replace the building. “We’re going to be in it for awhile despite what happens,” she said.

The next budget discussion is July 5 in the library at 7 p.m.

Calls for civility

Jeff Collins, co-founder of the Hudson Valley Sudbury School, said at the June 21 board meeting that division is not helpful when everyone seems to have a similar goal of a great library.

“When a community is divided along partisan boundaries, it does not serve the community,” Collins said. “It divides the community. It makes things not work as well as they could when we united under a common goal and a common issue.”

Collins said when a decision is made in a democratic way, the community has to support it. “This board is duly elected to represent the town. You were given the authority and the responsibility to decide what happens to the library. They made a decision. They involved conversation and they involved the community in that decision,” Collins said.

“Not everyone agreed with that decision, but they made it. If they have things that they want to say to the board, come say it. Come engage with them. Come talk to them. Be part of the process. Don’t try to disenfranchise the democratically elected board.”

Tim Moore, who served on the Facilities Task Force, said he wanted to see something new from the beginning. “What I’ve seen going on since the annex was defeated and discussed a lot during FTF is a well-intentioned but constantly polarizing struggle,” said Moore. “What happens in those kinds of struggles is it starts to turn into hero and villain caricatures of your opponent.”

Moore said he saw former board President Stuart Auchincloss and Amy Raff forced out in the process. “I would encourage you not to believe that somehow these board tyrants are somehow defying the will of the people,” Moore said.++

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