The director of the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library said she is "cautiously optimistic" that residents on Tuesday will approve a $22.6 million plan to renovate the library and add two branches.
Kerri Rosalia said library officials have met with community and civic organizations in recent weeks to answer questions about the bond proposition, which would fund new annexes in Mastic Beach and Moriches while paying for repairs and upgrades at the existing library in Shirley.
Voting is from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the library, 407 William Floyd Pkwy., in Shirley. If approved, the bond would raise taxes on the average home assessed at $1,995 by about $86 per year, officials said.
Library officials are using social media and the district's website to promote the plan and address concerns about costs and other details, Rosalia said.
"We’ve had many meetings at our library and, for the most part, the response has been positive," Rosalia said. "There are always concerns about raising taxes, but I think most people have been very positive. Having been through it ... we're a little seasoned. We knew everybody was going to have the same questions."
Library district residents have a history of rejecting bond propositions: A $34.8 million expansion and building improvement plan was defeated in 2006, and a $33.5 million proposal for a new library was rejected in February 2018.
Those proposals drew complaints about tax increases and what some residents said was library officials' reluctance to share information with the public.
Raymond Keenan, who voted against the 2018 bond, said he supports the current proposal in part because he said library officials have communicated better.
“We were the loyal opposition on the last one, and I have changed my mind on this one essentially because they worked with us," said Keenan, president of the Manor Park Civic Association. "Last time we had no input into the plan. This time we were able to get some things changed.”
Library officials reduced the original $26.6 million proposal by using $4 million in reserve funds. They also announced plans to save the Little Red Schoolhouse in Moriches, which had been scheduled for demolition by its owner, the William Floyd School District.
The library plans to spend $2 million to renovate the structure, including $1 million in library reserves and $1 million from grants and donations, Rosalia said. Money from the bond would not be used for renovations, she said, adding that the former school will be used by the library and community and nonprofit groups.
A new 7,000-square-foot library would be built next to the school if the bond passes. The proposal also calls for converting the former Mastic Beach Village Hall into a 7,000-square-foot annex on Neighborhood Road.
Frank Fugarino of Mastic Beach said the plan would help revitalization efforts in the former village.
“It‘s a no-brainer to me,” he said. “The library is definitely going to increase foot traffic on Neighborhood Road.”