North Bellmore residents will head to the polls on May 19 to vote on a proposed $8.9 million bond to renovate the community’s library, a building that staffers explained is out of space and out of date.
Tom Bazzicalupo, who has worked at the North Bellmore Public Library for 24 years, the past eight as its director, said discussion about a renovation between staff and the library board of trustees began with the idea of replacing carpeting and painting the walls.
After Ray Beeler, an architect from Gallin Beeler Design Studio, began speaking with staff members, however, it became clear that nearly every department has outgrown its space, Bazzicalupo said.
The children’s department needs an activity room for programs. The community room has to be reserved months in advance because it is currently the only large space available for children, teenagers, adults and outside organizations to meet. There is no young adult room. And instead of being in a centralized location, DVDs and periodicals are scattered around the library wherever they fit.
“All of these things were flagged as being problematic,” Beeler said. “From these staff interviews, what we were able to do was come up with a program for how much space would be needed to solve all of those problems.”
Beeler, Bazzicalupo, a special consultant, the library board and staff members decided that the building, at 1551 Newbridge Road, needed a 4,000-square-foot addition. They are now presenting plans for the addition and a reorganization of the facility to residents, who will vote on the bond proposal in the upcoming North Bellmore School District election.
A need for space
Beeler said the proposed addition, which would represent a 21 percent increase in usable library space, could best be described as a wrapper. Architects envision adding to the building at the front entrance and on every side except the one that faces Newbridge Road. They did not want to interfere with the firehouse across the street, they said.
The library was built in 1962, and the only major renovation it has undergone since –– in the 1980s –– included the addition of the community room and second-floor staff offices.
“The wrapper will be very glass-like and have an openness to the community that doesn’t exist right now,” Beeler said. “When you’re driving by, you see the library as a hive of activity. It will be light and airy and a very delightful space to be in.”
The addition would allow certain departments to be expanded and others to be reorganized, making them more accessible to patrons, Bazzicalupo said.
The children’s department would see a 90 percent increase in space — the largest of any department –– including the addition of a 600-square-foot activity room, child-friendly bathrooms for privacy and safety, and shelves that would allow kids to reach materials.