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Library may not close during renovations

Resident Thomas Scarpantonio asks a question at a

Resident Thomas Scarpantonio asks a question at a meeting about the planned months-long closure of the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley library. (July 25, 2011) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

The trustees of the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library are struggling to find a solution to fix the decrepit building while allowing the community continued access to a valuable public resource, the trustees said Monday during a monthly board meeting.

“We have started to form an ad-hoc committee of various civic leaders,” board president Joseph Maiorano told a packed audience attending the public portion of the meeting. He invited the public to join the committee, eliciting applause and praise.

The library building was originally slated to close for 16 months starting Oct. 1 for a $5 million renovation, with programs moving off-site and a small satellite library housing a portion of the collection in the interim.

Library officials said the cost of the renovations would be covered by the operating budget to avoid increasing taxes on residents, but that would mean the library could not afford to stay open during the renovations.

After hearing community outrage over the closure, library officials said last month they would seek another solution and formed the ad-hoc committee.

“Thank you for having a change of heart and letting the community be a part of this decision,” Mastic Beach resident Maureen DiMeo told Maiorano.

Some tensions lingered during Monday’s meeting, as when board trustee Joseph Simmons told the restless crowd, “It’s not us against you.” He later apologized for sounding “arrogant."

Photo: The Mastic-Moriches-Shirley library board is seeking alternatives after residents protested a plan to close the library during renovations. This meeting on the subject was July 25, 2011.

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