Outnumbering naysayers 362 to 75, supporters of renovating the Kingston Library got their way yesterday, signing off on a proposition to authorize $14 million in bonds, to finance improvements. The money will be paid back over 25 years.
No real improvements had been made since the library moved into the red brick building at 55 Franklin Street in 1978, executive director Margie Menard explained. “The board of trustees found that our mechanical systems, our HVAC, our electrical, our plumbing, our sprinkler system were in need of replacement and upgrading.”
Working with architects from Butler Rowland Mays over the last ten years, the library created a master plan which it has finally begun to implement. “We renovated our children’s room, we created the team space, we did an outdoor amphitheater,” said Menard, “and we are now at a point where there are no more separate projects that can be done without really doing the whole thing.”
Of particular importance in the plan is the construction of a new elevator on the outside of the building, along with a stairwell to replace the present internal stairways.
“Right now, our elevator is a centrally located, small old elevator in the center of the building,” explains Menard. “Heaven forbid a medical emergency happened on the second floor, you can’t fit a gurney in that elevator. And we have two internal stairwells that both exit into the center of the building, which is not up to code. Code says that you should have a stairwell that exits outside the building. You know, in case of an emergency, you don’t want to plunk people right back into the center of the building.”
The library estimates the cost to the average homeowning taxpayer will be an additional $6.71 a month, an increase over the current .45 cents per $1000 of assessed home value.
The annual tax levy to fund the operating budget of the Kingston Library district was also passed by a 388 to 54 margin. The amount requested was $1,034,585, shy by a little more than $200,000 of the current working budget estimated for 2023.
Currently the City of Kingston lists 8196 taxable parcels of land within its borders, both homestead and commercial. The total votes cast in the library election was just a small proportion of the total potential electorate — a nagging symptom that seems to afflict every opportunity presented the electorate to exercise their franchise in Ulster County. It was not an impressive turnout.
The final item on the ballot involved the unusual number of vacant seats on the nine-member board of trustees. With six open seats, only five candidates had their names on the ballot.
“The reason we have so many seats open right now as we do …we’ve had some resignations in the last couple of years due to Covid and peoples job-changing,” said Menard. “This time everyone will be elected. It’s just a question which how long their term will be.” Some vacancies are for three-year seats, others for two-year or one-year terms.
Elected for three-year terms are Laura Brown with 358 votes, Lisa Lerner with 355 votes, and Gerry Harrington 355 votes
Elected to the board of trustees for a two-year term is Andrea Gatzke with 351 votes, Ursula Inghem was elected for a one-year term with 347 votes.
Though she was not on the ballot, Frances Cathryn Vigna was elected to a one-year term with 70 write-in votes.
For now, the library flourishes.