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The Chappaqua Library has begun planning a referendum for as soon as next spring to complete a variety of exterior improvements to the building as well as needed roof repairs.
Library Board of Trustees President Jennifer Fahey said the library has retained KG&D Architects in Mount Kisco, and the firm has been working on plans to bring to the board in the near future. Those plans will determine the scope of the work and cost estimates.
If the timeline works out, there would be a vote next May on the same ballot as the Chappaqua School District budget vote and Board of Education election, Fahey said. Although the library operates autonomously in its day-to-day operations, the school district owns the land at 195 S. Greeley Ave. and the building, requiring the district to authorize a bond for improvements.
“We’ve been working with the architect and we’ll be refining their plan,” Fahey said. “We’ll be meeting with the school district in November to then talk to them about what we want to have. They need to sign off. It’s their building and we partner with them on any major work.”
The full scope of the project and the price tag is not yet known, Fahey said. Library trustees also intend to pursue grant funding.
Work being considered by the library board includes repairs to the existing façade of the building, a possible redesign of the main entrance to the building and the main courtyard, and updating the courtyard to the children’s area as well as the theater entrance, according to Fahey. Roof repairs are also being strongly considered, she said.
Once the board in conjunction with school district officials have tentative plans, vision boards will be on display in the library to help the public understand the contemplated project and solicit feedback.
The project is large enough that floating a bond will be necessary, Fahey said.
“We’re in great shape financially, but this would be a sizeable project, so the decision will be it definitely needs to be undertaken, but do we chop it up and do it over a few years or one big (project),” she said.
If a bond is floated, trustees would look to have the vote held on the same night as the school district vote in May, although Fahey acknowledged that schedule is a fairly aggressive timeline.
The possibility of a bond next year is one of several notable matters under consideration at the Chappaqua Library. The library board has begun to search for its next library director after Robert Conrad resigned the position effective Sept. 27, according to a board release last month.
Since the library is subject to taking its director from the Civil Service list, it’s likely to take two to four months before the new director is in place, Fahey noted.
She said Conrad, who came aboard last November from a library in upstate New York, is headed back to Chicago where he started his career.
When the new director is found, it would be the Chappaqua Library’s third director since Pam Thornton left the post in 2020. Since the library was founded in 1922, Conrad was only its 10th director.
Another key change for the library would be a shortening of the length of a trustee’s term from five to three years provided the State University of Regents grants approval for the request. If that is approved, the library board would amend its charter in time for the 2024 election.
A school district library board can either have three- or five-year terms.
Fahey explained that the board believes that five years is too long of a commitment, which may be contributing to the lack of candidates to run for a seat.
“A five-year period of time there can be changes with your occupation, where you want to live, your family, the health of your family,” Fahey said. “Things come up. It’s also a major, major commitment and I feel like our library is such a focus now that more people should have this experience.”
Starting next month, the Chappaqua Library will also be opening to the public an hour later at 10 a.m. on Thursdays only to accommodate staff training and meetings.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/