The Greenburgh Town Board unanimously approved the site plan application for the expansion of the Greenburgh Public Library last night. The project, which was approved by the voters in May, 2005, consists of the demolition of the vacant GreenburghTown Hallbuilding in order to facilitate the construction of a new 23,000 square foot addition to the existing library and the renovation to the existing 22,600 square feet library.
Although I have expressed some concerns about aspects of the expansion, the voters approved the project last year. Their wishes should be implemented. Any additional delay could increase construction costs.
It’s my hope that the town will tighten up the oversight of the project. We still do not have a temporary location for the library during the construction period. Although Frank’s nursery is still a possibility – town officials were told on Monday that there may be problems with the site and Frank’s is not a done deal. It’s important that library service be continued during the 2 years of construction. In my opinion, the failure of the town to hire a project manager to oversee this project has led to unnecessary delays and problems. The architect wanted the town to finalize the location for a temporary library last December. It’s August. We still have no lease and no approved plan. This is not acceptable.
Over a year ago I warned that the town was not anticipating problems. In a mailing that went out to voters before the referendum we were told that the old Town Hall would be used as a temporary library location. This is a direct quote from the flyer the library put out before the referendum: “An advantage of retaining the old Town Hall property is that the building would serve as temporary space while construction takes place. The use of an on site facility as a temporary library will save both time and money.” Now- we are told that the old Town Hall is not a feasible option. This information should have been provided to the public before the referendum, not after.
Over a year ago we were told that there was a need for a May referendum so that construction could “begin in the spring of 2006 and could be completed by the summer of 2007” (another direct quote from the flyer). It’s unlikely that construction will start before mid October—maybe later.
Cost overruns—the library construction team now estimates that projected costs are $400,000 over budget. Construction hasn’t even started. The voters authorized the expenditure of 19.8 million dollars for the project. As a result, design cuts will have to be made. I’m concerned that the $400,000 costs will continue to increase and feel that options for future design changes (based on cost overruns) should be presented to the community now –so that the residents of Greenburgh, not just a handful of people, can have input in how their new library will look.
We need to improve coordination and planning for this project. I have sent dozens of letters/emails/requests to my colleagues in town government over the past year suggesting that the Board hire a project manager who can help town officials oversee this project, anticipate problems (such as the temporary library location). We need to have someone on town staff who can devote full time attention to this project so that the project is built properly, within budget. We can’t afford a fiasco.
Just my opinion…