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Wyandanch library board trustees set meeting on effort to gain special-district status

The Wyandanch Public Library is the only one

The Wyandanch Public Library is the only one on Long Island that has not reopened since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.  Credit: Newsday/John Paraskevas

The Wyandanch Public Library is holding a public meeting Feb. 23 on its quest to separate from the school district and become a special-district library.

The library board has hired attorney Edward Pichardo of Manhattan to assist with the separation process and last month voted 3-2 to change to a special legislative district library.

Most of the 56 libraries in Suffolk County are school district libraries, said Kevin Verbesey, director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System. Special-district libraries still have publicly elected trustees and budgets and adhere to state Department of Education regulations, he said.

Library board president Ghenya Grant first publicly raised the notion of separating in July after the school district’s state monitor asked the library for documentation in support of an annual $1 million Tax Anticipation Note loan the district gives the library.

Trustees Katrina Crawford and Jordan Thomas voted against the move. Crawford said funds are "being wasted" by pursuing the change and should instead be spent on trying to reopen.

The library remains the only one on Long Island that has not reopened in some fashion since the start of the pandemic nearly a year ago. The board said the reason is a broken HVAC system that does not provide proper ventilation.

Thomas has said that he voted against becoming a special-district library because he believes "the community’s opinion should be gathered prior to such a big decision."

The state legislators who represent Wyandanch agree and have said they will not draft or sponsor the necessary legislation for the library to change unless they know that the community backs the move.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who must sign off on any legislation for the change once it passes the Assembly and Senate, has vetoed the last several attempts to create special-district libraries upstate.

The meeting will be held at 3 p.m. via Zoom. A public hearing on the issue will be held March 1 at 6 p.m. The links for the meeting registrations can be found on the library website: https://wyan.suffolk.lib.ny.us/

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