New Peninsula Public Library needs new contract

PPL and Village of Lawrence must renew land deal

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The contract signed between Peninsula Public Library and the Village of Lawrence last September, when PPL acquired roughly three-quarters of an acre of land by Zion Park from the village for $3.3 million, is set to expire in mid-December.

A one-year extension of the agreement is a stipulation of the village’s deal to sell the land to the library, where a new library would be built. Lawrence Mayor Alex Edelman said that the village board has yet to discuss extending the contract, but believes the trustees will agree to do so.

“I would say yes, there is some negative thinking and misunderstanding about additional parking spots, but this is the best place for it,” Edelman said, referring to the Zion Park site. “There will be a couple of more meetings, and at the end of the day we’ll be all right.” The trustees were scheduled to meet on Thursday, after the Herald went to press.

Library officials released a 1,396-word update last week on the proposed new library, which details everything that has occurred since September 2017. Plans for a new 37,500-square-foot building include a lower level that would have two community rooms; a first floor that could feature a café; a second floor geared toward children, tweens and teenagers, with space for science, technology, engineering, arts and math work, a Maker Space and a play area for younger children; a third floor for reading and working; and an upper-level lounge and balcony. It is possible that one story will be eliminated to alleviate residents’ concerns about the building’s height.

The proposed facility is more than twice the size of the existing library, at 280 Central Ave. in Lawrence, which, at 13,500 square feet, is the smallest such facility in Nassau County, according to the county’s library system. The new library is expected to cost $24 million, and library officials estimate that the average annual tax increase would be $120. Library district residents must approve the land purchase and the borrowing of the money. A date for a referendum is yet to be set.

The library district serves more than 35,000 residents of Atlantic Beach, Cedarhurst, Inwood, Lawrence, Meadowmere Park and parts of North Woodmere and Woodmere — the same communities that comprise the Lawrence School District. The district’s Board of Education voted to appoint itself the project’s lead agency, a move supported by state law.

“There is broad consensus that the library’s current facilities do not adequately meet the needs of the school district,” PPL officials stated in their release. “A new library could enhance the lives of thousands of families for many years to come.” The library board includes President Samuel Francis, Vice President Audrian Gray and Trustees Jeffrey Leb, Joseph Fuller and Sarah Yastrab.

Along with the need for a larger building, the other major issue is parking. The current building has 26 parking spaces, and the new one would have 38 spots on the property and another 40 on what is now vacant space along the Long Island Rail Road tracks and a small strip of grass on the northern edge of Zion Park. The new site plan is expected to increase the number of commuter spaces from 162 to 164, according to Kevin Walsh, an architect with Patchogue-based Burton Behrendt Smith.

“It looks like a beautiful library, but you don’t have enough [parking] spots right now,” Village Trustee Syma Diamond said at an Aug. 19 meeting. The handful of Lawrence residents who attended the meeting, on a Sunday, voiced their concerns about the building’s height, parking and traffic.

Library officials said the concerns noted at that meeting would be discussed at future public meetings. No dates have been set.

Have an opinion on the proposed new library topic? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.