Woodstock Library hopes for February bond vote

Woodstock Library officials are hoping for a February 15 referendum as to whether they can borrow the money — that is, bond for the funds — that will allow them to buy and renovate and then move to what will be the former Miller/Howard Investments building at 10 Dixon Avenue in Bearsville. As they plan for the bond vote, architect Marty Nystrom continues to tweak plans to renovate 10 Dixon Avenue.

A move into the building will require the Town Board to amend the zoning use table to include libraries since they are not allowed in the light industrial zone. As library liaison, Town Board member Laura Ricci has offered to help with the process, but library board President Jeff Collins, at the November 18 Board of Trustees meeting, said nothing can be done until the building is purchased.

The Miller/Howard board has an asking price of $2.579 million. If it approves the sale to the library, voters will be asked to borrow approximately $3.7 million for a $1.2 million renovation and the purchase of the building. Trustees decided that amount would be more palatable to voters than approximately $5.5 million for the purchase, renovation and an addition on to the building. They plan a fundraising campaign for the addition. “And then we will start the very public discussions with the town to say what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and to get feedback, and, and buy-in,” Collins said. 

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The Library Board of Trustees approved sketch plans by Nystrom, who is providing his services pro-bono. He is working to make sure everything fits into the Miller/Howard building and the library can function until a future addition provides more room for children’s programming.

“I think that this plan that we’ve worked on is sufficient to change what’s available for patrons of our library, creating better spaces, and a few more spaces, such as some study rooms that people can use, and a teen space,” Library Director Jessica Kerr said. “I think that this is a good plan and I think that people of Woodstock would benefit greatly and I think that they can support a bond for this…But do I think that this meets Woodstock’s current needs? Not quite, as far as the small size of the children’s room. I think it’s great, but as far as everything that people have been saying they’ve wanted for the last…I’ve been hearing it for 11 years,” Kerr said.

“But Jessica, it does give us more space and allows us to expand what we’re currently doing. And phase two, if it can come behind it, will give us everything that you’re describing,” trustee Kevin Kraft said. “So it’s going to fall short on a short-term basis, but immediately, it gives us more programming and allows us to increase what we’re offering to the community and meeting those needs.”

Kerr agreed. “Yes, in a more comfortable space, for sure. And it would be it would be accessible, it would have updated heating, cooling and air changing. So absolutely. It will improve everything for library patrons and users.”

Kerr thanked Nystrom for working with the staff to get a better understanding of how the layout for the new library will work. “I think you understand that our circulation [staff] does work more than our trustees do. If you ever really want to, please come to the library and learn how much our circulation staff do,” she said.

Collins also thanked Nystrom for his work.

“I think that’s it’s amazing. And it’s just really, really thankful of you for doing that. I can’t say enough about how great a job you’ve done for us. I really appreciate it.”

Collins said the goal is a February bond vote, but acknowledged it may be too early.

“I’m hoping for February, but that’s the hope. I’m going to base the timing of everything that leads up to it and make sure there’s adequate time to communicate and to get the community involved in this process,” Collins said.

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