Board unveils plans for $8 million library

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:46

    WARWICK-Warwick outgrew its library years ago. With a population of more than 21,000 in the school district, the current 5,000-square-foot building just does not meet the needs of a growing community. And that is according to the State Department of Education. That could change. Now, with the gift of 2.2 acres of land in the village, the library board has unveiled its plan for a state-of-the-art 27,000-square-foot library with room to grow. "This is not a once in a lifetime opportunity," said library Director Rosemary Cooper. "This is a once in a century opportunity." The land is the gift of Leyland Alliance, the developer of Warwick Grove, a residential community for adults over 55, which is being built behind Veteran's Memorial Park. Estimates for the cost of the building range from $7.5 million to $8.5 million, according to architect Paul Mays of Butler, Rowland, and Mays. Mays said that if the residents of the Warwick Valley School District take an $8 million bond, it would cost an additional $1.28 per $1,000 of assessed value for Warwick residents and 32 cents per $1,000 for Chester residents to build the new library. Residents of the district now pay $1.53 per $1,000 in Warwick; that would increase to $2.81 per $1,000 for library expenses as well as the new building. By comparison, the Florida library tax rate is $3.30 per $1,000 and in Greenwood Lake it is $5.12 per $1,000. A home with a market value of $300,000 in Warwick and that is assessed at $75,000 (or 25 percent of the market value) would pay $210.75 per year in library taxes. But that is getting ahead of things. The building that is proposed incorporates the history of Warwick—using a barn architecture to break up the footprint of the building. "The outside of the building takes its cues from the agricultural history of the area," Mays said. "The roof lines are broken into several pieces. Stone and wood are used, which is keeping with the character of the community rather than brick and glass. This gives an historic look to the building." There is green space interspersed with the parking areas, which are all connected by a pathway. The parking area has 60 spaces as compared with the three currently available on Colonial Avenue. And the building is the first thing a visitor will see as she comes down MacFarland Road. The parking area is past the building. The main lobby acts as a gallery, with lots of natural light. Another entrance will allow the library to open for a special event without opening the entire building. It will allow entrance to a first floor conference room and restrooms. The children's section, much larger than the current downstairs space, is on the main level and leads to an outdoor children's garden. The circulation desk is much larger than the current one and is centrally located on the main floor. Directly across from that is the area for new items, including books, CDs, DVDs and videos. Upstairs is reachable by either stairs or an elevator, making this building accessible to all. There is a fiction area, a reference area, a teen room, local history room and a small conference room. Small , private study areas are scattered throughout the building, as are individual reading areas and computers with Internet access. Cooper compared the current facility to the proposed one. Although the current building is "a beautiful building," she said it does not meet the needs of the community. "A community of our size should have about 100,000 items on its shelves," Cooper said. "We barely have 40,000." Seating should be available for 150 people; the current library has 30 seats. Six computers are available now at the library; the state Education Department recommends 25. Warwick has a school district library, meaning all those in the district contribute to the cost of it. The current building is owned by the district, as will be the new building, if it is approved by voters. Cooper said a referendum could come as early as next September if all continues to move along. If it is approved, three to six months would be needed to prepare construction documents and ground breaking could come as early as spring 2006. Doors could open sometime in 2007. But it is not just the look of the building that is important, according to other speakers Tuesday night. It is what is inside, how the library reflects the community that matters. "Vision is the catalyst to do something, to go beyond what is mundane or commonplace," said Mayor Michael Newhard. "This is the vision of the community, not of one person. As you bring that vision around, it starts to mold into what the community is." Newhard compared the library with helping his son put on his shoes earlier that morning. "We have to keep growing with our sons and daughters," he said, noting that his son was outgrowing his shoes. "The library is the crossroads of our lives. It is the place we go to read, use the computers, meet friends. When that building becomes too constrained, when that shoe becomes too small, it is time to change. We are preparing our legacy for the next generation. We are buying that next pair of shoes."