Woodstock Library officials will hold a series of small group discussions via videoconferencing better to engage with the community after the narrow defeat of the $5.8-million bond in November. “We are recommending community dialogues beginning in January,” communications committee chair Kevin Kraft said at the December 17 board meeting.“The intention in to try to bring some balance back.”
Participation at each dialogue will be limited to 15 to 20 people, with the hope that different participants will engage in each meeting. “We’ll include a weekday, weeknight and perhaps a weekend day,” Kraft said. “If these meetings fill, we can move forward to another set.”
Opponents to the 12,500-square-foot building to replace the existing library say the board has not engaged in a dialogue, rather a one-way communication with a response allowed either later in the meeting or at another time. “At the November board meeting, I pointed out that the plans for the new library were presented to the public just twice in the last two years, and the public was not permitted to speak at those two meetings in August 2018 and July 2019,” said John Ludwig, a member of the Library Alliance, a group opposed to the building plans. “The design went through significant changes that were of interest to the public, yet 17 months have now passed since the last presentation.”
Trustees criticized the opposing group for its use of an elevation drawing in its campaign against the plan, claiming it was misleading. “An elevation is not a photo of the building,” trustee Jeff Collins said. “Claiming that is an accurate representation is known to be false. I’m asking for truth. That’s all I’m asking,” he said. “Don’t use a 2D representation of a 3D building.”
Building committee chair Howard Kagan criticized opponents’ alternate plan by architect Curry Rinzler, saying it was not properly vetted. “It was not based on input from staff. There was no cost analysis,” Kagan said. “We’d be happy to turn over the program to anyone” who wants to develop a building plan.
Some people during the public-comment period of the meeting wanted to know what steps have been taken to remediate mold in the existing building. Library Alliance member Sam Magarelli said the library needed to conduct an environmental assessment and make the results public. “The Library Alliance would like to help with fundraising to cover the cost,” he offered.
Library director Jessica Kerr said the ductwork was cleaned and windows are opened whenever possible to bring in fresh air. The library also purchased air purifiers.