About 150 residents attended a meeting with Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library officials Thursday about a $33.5 million bond proposal to construct a new facility.
Library officials say their existing building on William Floyd Parkway in Shirley needs replacing because it has only 37 parking spaces, is outdated and no longer suitable to serve the 56,000 residents in the district. The building hasn’t seen many improvements in the past 30 years, they say.
The bonding proposal, to be voted on Feb. 7 in a referendum, calls for a new $38.5 million library on the former Links golf course, about a mile south of the current library. Brookhaven Town owns part of the golf course and has agreed to donate the property for the library. The remaining $5 million is to come from cash reserves.
But many who use the existing library say constructing a new building would raise taxes too much.
“We object to it,” Ray Keenan, president of the Manor Park Civic Association, said before the meeting Thursday.
“It’s very expensive and in the wrong direction,” Keenan said.
The meeting was held in Mastic Beach at William Floyd High School and no public speakers were allowed.
In an interview, Orlando Jimenez, a supporter of the project and president of Friends of Mastic Moriches Shirley Community Library said, “This community deserves better than what we have. Much better . . . If we don’t invest in our future, this community will never expand.”
Library officials, who responded only to written questions, said public transportation would be available once roads are built and that renovations to the existing library could be as high as $25 million.
Some residents have proposed instead that the district purchase a former bowling alley site across the street from the library and convert it to public use. Library officials said that building can’t sustain a second floor.
Brookhaven Town Councilman Dan Panico said he supports the proposal, but said the decision is ultimately up to residents.
“The people of our area deserve a first-class facility like that which is proposed, Panico said in a text message Thursday. “This is an investment in the community and in what will be a vibrant and dynamic public space for the children and families of our area.”
“It is ultimately the decision of those within the boundaries of the referendum to decide.”
The proposal is the result of a series of visioning meetings starting in 2015 in which the majority of the roughly 100 residents who participated recommended the proposed library.
“And that’s why we chose to build new,” library board president James Mazzarella said Thursday.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the amount of the proposed bonding.