The Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library will use most of its surplus to cover $4 million of the $26.6 million cost to renovate the main building and construct two branches, officials said.
The plan, which will be put up for a public vote in December, calls for renovating the library in Shirley and building new branches in Moriches and Mastic Beach. One branch is slated for the Little Red School House property in Moriches. The other is planned at the site of the old Mastic Beach Village Hall on Neighborhood Road.
The tax increase for the average homeowner will be $86, said Joseph Maiorana, library board president.
Library officials said they've spent the past year reaching out to the community to determine the most cost-effective way to serve the district of about 60,000 residents.
"We have been very responsive to the public," Maiorana said. "We're trying ... to provide two smaller community branches to the wider district."
The Moriches and Mastic Beach branches would be complete by 2021, and the main library would close for the renovations until 2023.
Former leaders of Mastic Beach village — which dissolved at the end of 2017 — said they are concerned about how a library branch would affect downtown development.
Maura Spery, the former mayor of Mastic Beach, said the project could hurt downtown development because it eats away at available space developers want.
The library branch would also be adjacent to a $9.5 million ambulance headquarters that opened last September.
“I think that developers want to look at continuous pieces of properties, and they’re cutting up the parts that a master developer would look at,” said Spery, adding that both buildings would be non-taxpaying properties in the heart of downtown.
Mastic Beach is in the process of a comprehensive blight study, which will determine if the hamlet qualifies for an urban renewal plan. The plan would review the conditions of buildings and determine which should be demolished or rehabilitated along Neighborhood Road. A master plan for redevelopment would then be drafted.
Bob Miller initiated the unincorporation effort in Mastic Beach, and later saw it through as its final mayor. He said he does not support renovating the main library and building two other locations.
“The library was better off building brand new than going off renovating,” said Miller, adding having three libraries creates more operating expenses.
He said the library board should again propose building at the former Links At Shirley golf course. A majority of voters rejected a $33.5 million referendum in February 2018 to build a new library there.
Board members voted to use the surplus after Manor Park Civic Association president Ray Keenan suggested it during a September presentation of the expansion.
“That’s what they should have been doing all along,” Keenan said.
He said he is undecided about the latest proposal.
“I haven’t seen everything. You need to give me a breakdown of the cost,” Keenan said. “This is a better plan than the last time but we need more specifics.”
The proposal calls for:
- $16.3 million for the replacement of walls, ceilings, flooring, removing steel and enlarging bathrooms at the main library on William Floyd Parkway in Shirley.
- $5.8 million for a branch at the site of the Little Red School House in front of Moriches Elementary School.
- $4.5 million to renovate and add 3,000 square feet to the old Mastic Beach Village Hall.