The people have spoken decisively, and Woodstock has taken a major step toward getting a new library.
With an unofficial total of 770-455 in favor, a $3.95 million bond to purchase, renovate and move to the former Miller/Howard Investments headquarters at 10 Dixon Avenue easily sailed through to approval, marking the end of a decade-long drama with failed attempts to get Woodstockers a better library.
“Elation. Absolute elation,” said Woodstock Library board President Jeff Collins when asked for his reaction to the results. Collins was one of about a dozen supporters and detractors who stayed after the close of polls to witness Ulster County Deputy Elections Commissioner Jen Fuentes read the results off the voting machine at the Mescal Hornbeck Community Center on May 10, after a tense day of voting, which saw long lines outside of the sole polling place. Fuentes said there are about 90 outstanding absentee ballots, a number that is not high enough to change the outcome.
“I can’t believe it. I’m crying,” Collins said. “We hired this wonderful director and just got a wonderful library to build into now and I’m just so happy for her...I’m shocked. Not because I’m surprised, but because I couldn’t let myself expect it.”
In the heat of a contentious bond campaign, with opponents accusing the library of rushing plans to move onto a contaminated site, Collins was arrested May 7 for taking lawn signs that read “Don’t Buy a Toxic Building Site.” He called the statement on the signs libelous and countered that an engineering study found chemicals left by lens maker Model Optics prior to Miller/Howard’s purchase are acceptable, below any levels signifying danger for residential use.
Collins has offered to resign in the wake of his arrest and charges. “It’s up to the board to decide what happens with it, and that stands,” said Collins when asked if he had any second thoughts given the May 10 victory. “I don’t have words. It’s been such a long, long struggle for Woodstock. It’s over. It’s a new day. It’s a new period.” Collins noted that his daughter did not want to go to the current library because of its condition.
“She never had a place to gather with her young friends. And now, young kids will have someplace,” he said. “I remember as a kid, being able to be in the library and be with other kids. And you can’t do it. But you can do it in this [new] one.”
Ivy Gocker, who started her role in December, will likely soon get a new library to plan and grow programming. “Now itreally starts. We sold this beautiful vision and now it’s time to get planning and deliver it,” she said. “It sends the message thatyes, Woodstock endorses this plan.”