Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library officials have decided to purchase the former Mastic Beach Village Hall and turn it into a satellite library, scrapping a previous plan to lease the building.
Library president Joe Maiorana said in an interview that the board voted 5-0 on May 7 to buy the vacant Neighborhood Road facility for $820,000 from Center Moriches-based AFU Properties and its owner, former Bay Gas chief executive John O'Loughlin. Maiorana said an outside appraiser set the structure's market value at $920,000.
Maiorana said the library hopes to close on the purchase next month and spend $300,000 to $400,000 to renovate the space. The library's main branch on William Floyd Parkway in Shirley would remain open.
"Because we were able to purchase the building for significantly less than the appraisal, we decided it was more cost-effective to just own the building now," he said. “We hope to be operating there before the end of the year.”
Library officials had previously said they were negotiating a deal to lease the building, with an option to purchase it after five years. Under that scenario, O'Loughlin would have expanded the 4,000-square-foot structure to about 7,000 square feet.
Under the new plan, O'Loughlin will not expand the building, Maiorana said, adding that library officials may consider doing so in the future.
The building has been empty since Dec. 31, 2017, when the Village of Mastic Beach disbanded. O’Loughlin bought the building from village for $441,540 in a 2017 auction.
Former Mastic Beach Mayor Maura Spery questioned the library's purchase of the building, because it is in the middle of a downtown area that Brookhaven officials are considering for a revitalization project. Developers may not be interested in having a library as part of redevelopment efforts, she said.
"I think it’s a mistake to buy while we’re undergoing a blight study, and I think they probably overpaid,” Spery said, adding the building may have problems such as mold and inadequate sewage capacity. “As the mayor, I know the building has many issues that need to be addressed.”
Another former mayor, Robert Miller, hailed the purchase and said it could help the former village reinvent itself after years of economic stagnation.
“It’s really starting to turn around,” Miller said, adding the building had no structural problems when the village was disbanded. “I think the library going downtown would be very good for the seniors if they don’t want to drive up the highway” to the main branch.
Library director Kerri Rosalia said officials plan to hold meetings at which residents can suggest ideas for the annex.
“It’s a step forward, and I’m excited to bring library services right into Mastic Beach and to be a part of the revitalization of Neighborhood Road," Rosalia said. "We’re happy to be a part of that.”