Library board divided over Station branch renovation

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Great Neck Library Board President Rebecca Miller presided over a meeting that focused on the delayed renovations of the Station branch library. (Photo by Sarah Ibrahim)
Great Neck Library Board President Rebecca Miller presided over a meeting that focused on the delayed renovations of the Station branch library. (Photo by Sarah Ibrahim)

By Sarah Ibrahim

The Great Neck Library Board of Trustees narrowly approved the furniture cost estimate and the construction and design cost estimate and review for the library’s Station Branch at a meeting Tuesday night.

The conversation was initiated by Vice President Weihua Yan, who questioned the need to take on multiple projects at this time due to the recent departure of Library Director Denise Corcoran.

Yan said the board was short staffed and suggested “we postpone any new projects and focus on finding a new director and making sure the house is in order.” This included delaying the renovations for the Station Branch until further notice.

Treasurer Josie Pizer suggested putting off the discussion for the night and picking it back up at the next meeting.

“I certainly think we need to continue to move forward and get things done,” Pizer said.

Secretary Barry Smith disagreed with Yan.

“The library is not just one person; the library is an entity of the community that goes on … it is very important that we forge ahead,” Smith said.

President Rebecca Miller agreed with Pizer and Smith. She said the agenda items “are incremental steps towards a plan that’s been in motion for a very long time, and are all towards clarification in regards to costs that are actual rather than just plans.”

“If we slow this down we are talking about extremely long delays and there is no real reason in my opinion to do that,” Miller said.

Miller also said in regard to the Station Branch renovation that “this is a commitment that we made a long time ago … to take steps to abandon that without thoughtful consideration of the actual cost and impact, which this motion will illuminate for us seems like a breach in the trust of our community.”

Yan said he believed that there were “more important projects that the library can do other than the Station Library renovation” and added that he wants the library to focus on its programs and how to best serve the community rather than the physical appearance.

Assistant Treasurer Chelsea Sassouni said “the library’s premier value to our community is a physical place where people can go … Books and programs are very important, but I believe the physical space is actually of the upmost importance … It is very important that it is a great physical space and a space people want to come to.”

Pizer said there is money available for all the renovations which have been talked about.

“Thinking that if we do one we cannot do the other or many others is a mistake,” Pizer said.

When Miller asked for the vote, Pizer, Smith and Sassouni approved the furniture cost estimate and the construction and design cost estimate and review while Yan and Scott Sontag voted against it.

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