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Mar 7, 2016 3:55 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Library Board Wants To Buy Adjoining Lot To Accommodate Expansion Plans

Jim Papandrea, of Hampton Bays, holds up a letter sent to him by Hampton Bays Library Director Susan LaVista, asking him to consider selling his property to the library. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Mar 10, 2016 11:28 AM

The Hampton Bays Public Library Board of Trustees is looking to buy private land that runs adjacent to the Ponquogue Avenue facility, an additional expense that has not yet been factored in to the cost of the library’s estimated $13.3 million renovation project.

The acquisition, if ultimately approved, would most likely allow the library to continue operating from a temporary structure on its current site throughout the multi-year project, which requires the demolition of the current building. Additionally, the purchase of additional land will permit greater flexibility when outlining the footprint for the new two-story library, while also leaving more space for additional parking—a chronic issue at the current facility.

The public referendum on the project, which does not yet include the additional money for the proposed land purchase, has been scheduled for Tuesday, June 14. If approved, the work would be financed with a 20-year bond.

Library taxes for the average hamlet resident, whose land is now assessed at $400,000, would go up by about $108 annually for the life of the bond to help finance the work, officials have previously estimated. Those figures, however, do not include the additional cost of land.

Hampton Bays Library Director Susan LaVista said this week that she sent out letters in November to the four property owners whose homes are adjacent to the library, asking if they would consider selling their land to the library. Library officials are now in negotiations with one of the homeowners, though Ms. LaVista would not say which one, or disclose how much the library was looking to spend on the property.

“We are working on something with a homeowner, but it’s not signed and sealed, so I can’t give you any specifics on it,” Ms. LaVista said on Monday.

The four properties that adjoin with the library include 3 Argonne Road, 4 Oak Court, 4 Linda Lane and 2 Linda Lane. All are zoned residential and range from a quarter to a half acre in size.

The letter that Ms. LaVista sent to the four homeowners notes that the request is due to the “major construction project” that the library trustees are planning.

“I am reaching out to you on behalf of the Library Board of Trustees to inquire if you would consider selling your property to the Library,” the letter reads. “We would like to meet with you to further discuss the matter.”

The purchase of an adjoining property would help the library operate at its current address when the construction takes place, and would likely add extra parking, Ms. LaVista explained.

Victor Canseco, the owner of Sandpebble Builders in Southampton, has estimated the cost of construction to be about $13.3 million. That amount, however, does not include the cost of acquiring additional land.

“We are fine-tuning numbers,” Ms. LaVista said when asked how much is being offered to the unnamed homeowner.

Jim Papandrea, 91, who lives directly behind the library on Oak Court, was one of the homeowners to receive a letter from Ms. LaVista, asking if he’d consider selling his half-acre lot. “They sent me a letter,” said Mr. Papandrea, who has been living in his Hampton Bays home for nearly 50 years, when reached on Friday afternoon. “They said they were interested in buying the house. We’re not going to sell the house.”

Mr. Papandrea, whose backyard fence features a gate that opens to the parking lot behind the library, said he does not think his refusal to sell will impact the board’s renovation plans. Personally, he said he does not think that enough Hampton Bays residents will support the bond referendum so that it passes in June.

“I don’t even know if anything is going to be done,” Mr. Papandrea said. “It seems that some people are for it and some people not. Mostly because they feel the taxes are going to go up and so forth.”

It the measure ultimately passes, the current library would be demolished and a new 24,000-square-foot building would be constructed on the 1.3-acre lot. The new library would also benefit from at least 34 new parking spaces, upping the total number of available spots to 101. Again, those figures do not include any additional land purchases.

While the new building is being constructed, the library would have to close until approximately the middle of 2019, according to preliminary estimates. During that time, officials might need to temporarily rent another building in the hamlet to house the library and its programming. However, if the library’s plan to purchase an adjacent property goes through, they might be able to continuing operating from a temporary on-site structure.

“There is a strong possibility we might be able to remain on-site, which is preferred,” Ms. LaVista said. “We understand that our current location is ideal. We are in close proximity to the schools, to the families that like to walk or bike to the library. So moving off-site, even during the construction, would be a challenge.”

She said she could not offer additional details for that plan, explaining that an architect would be tasked with seeing if such a scenario would be possible.

The library trustees, meanwhile, intend to hold additional informational meetings prior to the June referendum though dates were not finalized as of earlier this week.

Before selecting a renovation plan, library officials held three informational meetings at the library to collect feedback from the community. They also met with local groups, including the Hampton Bays Beautification Association, to get additional input from taxpayers.

At the meetings, library officials proposed seven plans, ranging from small upgrades to the current facility to selling the facility and moving to a bigger lot at another location in the hamlet. Ms. LaVista previously noted that library officials selected the current plan because it received the most support at those meetings.

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I think Ms LaVista should stop spending the taxpayers money like a drunken sailor
By CaptainSig (716), Dutch Harbor on Mar 7, 16 6:11 PM
2 members liked this comment
Gee why are all the locals being driven out?lmao
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Mar 7, 16 6:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
As a HB taxpayer, there are no words to describe how betrayed I feel by the Library Board. If they are so passionate about building a new expanded library, they should find other means of funding the building than using taxpayer funds. It is misleading to say "the community wants it" based on the poor attendance at the 4 forums. IMAO, the taxpayers of HB have had enough.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on Mar 7, 16 7:55 PM
3 members liked this comment
Perhaps the library board should be required to raise the money thru private sources. Once they have it they can proceed with there plans.
By bird (829), Sag Harbor on Mar 7, 16 8:17 PM
2 members liked this comment
What a ridiculous plan. In this computer age, almost any book is available on Kindle or on a computer. The residents of Hampton Bays are already disproportionately over-taxed in contrast with neighboring towns. One wonders if the expenditure of a proposed $13,000,000 is realistic - with acknowledgment by the proposers that this does not take into account other possible expenses, including the acquisition of adjoining properties. There are so many questions unanswered and so many issue left not ...more
By Jimion (129), Hampton Bays on Mar 7, 16 8:42 PM
I agree - we need to spread the word to vote NO to this referendum. Only 150 voters showed up to the last Library vote and of course almost everyone voted yes.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on Mar 7, 16 9:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
I use the library frequently and it seems fine just as it is. This plan is overly ambitious and unnecessary IMO. Maybe the trustees are envious of larger libraries in surrounding communities, but the HB library is great as is. I would vote no.
By HB90 (164), southampton on Mar 7, 16 9:29 PM
1 member liked this comment
This is crazy when is the vote to stop this from happening. This town has a lot of problems that need solutions and plenty of other uses for our tax money.
By bigblue84 (89), Hampton Bays on Mar 8, 16 7:58 AM
Have the vote on Election Day -- this would increase participation. The Library should not become an alternative method for increasing the school district spending that has been capped by state law. And by the way, the Fire Department election should be on the same date as regular elections in November as well.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Mar 8, 16 9:37 AM
1 member liked this comment
The article states that the vote is set for TUESDAY, JUNE 14. The taxpayers of HB should spread the word to vote NO. There is no need for an expanded "library" for card games & exercise classes There are several other public recreation facilities in HB. IMHO, the Board should go back to the original $1 million of repairs as they reported last April.
By G.A.Lombardi (575), Hampton Bays on Mar 8, 16 9:10 PM
2 members liked this comment
Hampton Bays should provide its taxpayers detailed statistics on usage of the library. Most people read books online now. If anything, the library should be SMALLER. Make a case as to why this outrageous amount of money is necessary.

My wife and I are already paying $2,200 a year for a library that we have never set foot in.

Who needs a library when you can Google anything? Or read any book or magazine online? The last time I went to a library to do research was about 1984.

Is ...more
By SHPredatorDept (72), Southampton on Mar 10, 16 12:59 PM
1 member liked this comment