As the May 10 moment-of-truth vote approaches asking townspeople if they will allow trustees of the Woodstock Library to borrow $3.95 million to buy a potential new home at 10 Dixon Avenue, the town’s citizens have another chance to hear and discuss details of the deal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27 at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center, 56 Rock City Road, Woodstock.
The vote is a simple yes or no election that will be held noon-9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10, with the only polling location being that same Mescal Hornbeck Community Center, at the address stated above.
A ‘yes’ vote to issue the bond will give the board the funding to buy the former Miller/Howard Investments building on Dixon Avenue. In addition to the $2.596 million purchase price, the amount to be borrowed in the bond issue would cover a $1.3 million renovation to make the building withstand the load of book stacks and make it more accessible. The loan will also cover moving costs. According to its agreement with Miller/Howard, the Library has until June 30 to purchase the building.
A ‘no’ vote could mean a trip back to the drawing board for an institution that has struggled with difficult conditions in its aged ill-suited Tinker Street/Library Lane building for more than a decade and a half, yet has not prevailed in convincing the public that an annex should have been built nor in seeking to tear down the current structure and rebuild on the spot.
New engineering report says conditions are safe
Critics have questioned the push for a bond vote amid what had been unanswered environmental questions. An initial environmental review on the 10 Dixon Avenue property uncovered testing conducted in 2012 that revealed elevated levels of lead and arsenic, a burn pile, dry wells and a septic system of unknown condition. The library commissioned an environmental firm, Colliers Engineering and Design, based in New Windsor, NY to conduct an updated review and make recommendations for remediation.
On April 18 the Library trustees released raw figures that appear to show no volatile organic compounds, semi-volatile organic compounds, arsenic or lead in excess of state limits at the proposed site. Zinc was found in excess of limits, but it was 18 feet underground. Groundwater tests found aluminum, iron and manganese at excess levels.
On April 25, the Library released Colliers Engineering’s evaluation of those conditions at 10 Dixon Avenue.
According to a news release issued by the Woodstock Library, “…there were no Volatile Organic Compounds or Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds found in either the soil or the water that exceeded Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) limits found in any of the tests. The levels of zinc detected did not exceed the limits set for residential, commercial, or industrial use. The Phase II ESA report concludes, ‘zinc is a naturally occurring metal and is likely to be background.’ The report also concludes that ‘no additional investigation is warranted’ with regard to the zinc.”
The release also quoted Library Board President Jeffrey Collins: “We can now say for certainty that the environmental conditions at 10 Dixon Ave are safe. Comments made by people in our public meetings and in letters to the editor have made false and unsubstantiated claims about the environmental conditions at 10 Dixon Ave. I believe that this has been done in an attempt to create fear in the community in order to drum up support to defeat the bond.”
Still, critics persist. In a letter to the editor in this week’s paper, Joseph Doan, states he is a licensed professional engineer of 50 years with expertise in water quality and hazardous waste and says he is “incredibly concerned that the Woodstock Library Board wants to buy a piece of
property that was previously occupied by an industrial company. During their manufacturing process, they generated toxic wastes that were disposed of in dry wells and seepage pits on site!
They contaminated the soil and groundwater at this site with poison which is still present today! There has been no effort by the past owner and the present owner to remediate this condition…”
The 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27 meeting at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center is open to the public. No pre-registration is required.
The link for the raw numbers from Colliers Engineering and Design is https://www.woodstock.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Phase-II-Complete-Results.xlsx