Woodstock Library puts another piece in place for building replacement

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Woodstock Library trustees took one more step toward a new library by seeking a construction manager agent to oversee the progress and budget of the project.

The board, at its May 16 meeting, authorized the drafting of a request for proposals for the construction manager agent, or CMA, who acts as a liaison and advocate for the library’s interests. The person in that position is independent from the general contractor and subcontractors.

Building Committee Chair Jill Fisher said the RFP will be sent to 14 potential firms and will be posted on the website and advertised for anyone else who is interested. “We really can’t do it as volunteers and it’s a lot to ask of our director who has her hands full with other things,” Fisher said.

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Some trustees voiced concerns about making sure locals are encouraged to apply, a complicated issue since the trade association that supplies references is based in Albany. “We’re trusting that the proposals we get will show local people will be less expensive perhaps,” Fisher said, adding a firm may be based in New York City but have an employee who is local. “We need to have someone look at the schematics by August 1, so we’re really getting kind of tight,” she said.

The board recently approved a $584,000 contract with Dobbs Ferry architect Stephen Tilly. The library does not yet have the funding for the entire amount, but has made an initial $10,000 deposit and has secured enough money for the approximately $71,000 schematic design phase. Trustees say that phase, which will provide more detailed drawings and cost estimates, is necessary to attract donors. Trustees hope to raise money for the rest of the contract and construction costs. Either side can walk away from the contract with seven days notice and the library is only obligated to pay for services rendered up to that point.

A bond vote is planned for November 2020, though trustees hope the full $5 million project budget, which is the architect contract plus construction cost, will be paid by donors.

Staying on message

The fundraising and development committee met with the Build a Better Library Committee where members discussed ways to deal with rumors and misinformation, reported Trustee Selma Kaplan. Trustees will encourage those who have questions about the library to come to the library or contact the board. President Dorothea Marcus reiterated that message at a recent Town Board meeting after hearing from many, perhaps unaware the library board is autonomous, who have asked questions of town officials. Town Supervisor Bill McKenna assured Marcus he always refers them to the library.

Trustee Kevin Kraft is planning a series of talks to civic organizations and donors called Conversations with the Community. He will use that opportunity to also dispel rumors.

“We’ll be out in the community with this conversation by the middle of June,” Kraft said. He also noted Trustee Bobby Bui will be encouraging part-time residents to participate.

Marcus said many have already responded to a call for volunteers in the Notes to the Community email newsletter.

Is anyone listening?

Former Trustee John Ludwig criticized the board for not seeking enough public input before making its decision to build a new library instead of renovating and adding on to the current facility. He handed out a March 2017 Woodstock Times article in which the board was favoring renovation.

“When I was a trustee here, I was always encouraging let’s fill up town hall and let’s have a discussion. Let’s have people talk,” Ludwig said. “I thought that was the best way to learn what was going on is to have people talk to each other and share ideas, and share ideas with the trustees.”

Building Committee member Marty Nystrom countered that there were several opportunities for public input. “I think, John, you’ve forgotten about dotmocracy. You’ve forgotten about the sketch plan day that we had on a Saturday where the whole community came and spoke about what they wanted to have in the library,” Nystrom said. Dotmocracy was a session in which participants placed dots on photos or concepts best resembling what they wanted to see in their library.

Nystrom also noted a lot has changed since March 2017 because the board heard from experts and decided new construction was the most cost-effective solution.

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