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Jan 19, 2016 11:57 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Longtime Hampton Bays Library President Steps Down, Passes Baton On Renovation Project

Rosemarie King stepped down from the Hampton Bays Library Board of Directors this month after serving for 10 years. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Jan 19, 2016 2:25 PM

Even though she no longer serves on the Hampton Bays Public Library Board of Directors, Rosemarie King still has a vested interest in the Ponquogue Avenue facility and ensuring that a proposed multimillion-dollar expansion project—one she had helped organize during her decade-long tenure—ultimately receives public approval later this year.

In fact, she said in an interview Saturday that the hardest part about leaving the board late last month—library trustees in Hampton Bays can serve only two five-year stints before they are term-limited—is having to step down just when the renovation plans were getting off the ground.

Over the summer, the board of directors started soliciting opinions from hamlet residents about what upgrades they would like to see at their library. The board accomplished this by holding a series of informational meetings at the library, as well as talking with other community groups during their monthly meetings.

“We had a large majority of support for either improving the existing library or building a new one,” said Ms. King, who served as president of the seven-member board for her final year, which ended on December 31. “So, it seemed like that’s what the community wants.”

The board intends to put up a bond referendum, possibly as early as this spring, asking taxpayers to foot the bill to have the single-story, 12,318-square-foot library, which also features a 8,384-square-foot finished basement, demolished and replaced with a new two-story, 24,000-square-foot library on the 1.3-acre property. The new building footprint will also increase the number of available parking spaces by about 50 percent, from 67 spots to 101. A date for the public referendum has yet to be selected.

The project, previously dubbed by library officials as Plan F, is expected to cost about $13.3 million and would be financed with a 20-year bond. Under the proposal, the average Hampton Bays resident, whose property is assessed at $400,000, can expect to pay an additional $108 per year for the life of the bond, according to library officials.

If taxpayers ultimately sign off, the work would require the temporary relocation of the library—most likely to another building somewhere in the hamlet—until the middle of 2019 to allow for the new building’s construction.

“The building doesn’t meet our needs as far as space,” said Ms. King, a retired Hampton Bays Elementary School teacher, about the current facility, which opened in 1963. “The building has repairs that need to be done. So that brought up question of, ‘Should we put more money into it?’”

At the end of 2014, just a few months before Ms. King took over as president, the board started thinking about renovating the library, she explained this week. This led them to ask Hampton Bays residents what they wanted to see updated in the facility at a community meeting last April.

After that gathering, the board sat down with Victor Canseco, owner of Sandpebble Builders in Southampton, to discuss how they could accommodate the suggestions brought up by patrons. Together they came up with six options—the simplest called for minor upgrades and an estimated $1 million price tag, while the most drastic required selling the current library, as well as the land it stands on, buying a new lot and building a brand new facility. That project would have run at least $14.4 million, according to library officials.

In addition to doubling the size of the library and significantly increasing parking, the plan now being pushed by officials also includes more educational space, upgraded heating and ventilation systems, and new furnishings.

While she wishes she could have remained on the board though this year’s bond referendum and beyond, Ms. King had an active hand in selecting the board’s two newest trustees—Hilary Rose and Anthony Filorimo—who, along with their five board counterparts, are now charged with working to ensure the bond’s passage later this year.

“We had excellent candidates; it was a very difficult decision,” Ms. King said of the new trustees. “We chose the two people who brought new and interesting ideas to what we are doing.”

In a joint interview this week, Ms. Rose and Mr. Filorimo said they are excited to join the board at such a crossroads, noting that they will pick up the baton and work to convince their fellow residents that they should support the bond referendum when it is put up for a public vote.

“It’s an exciting time for everything that’s going to happen with the library,” said Ms. Rose, co-owner of the new It Takes A Village preschool on West Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays.

Similarly, Mr. Filorimo, a retired banker, explained that he intends to rally support for the project by reminding community members of the ways they can utilize a new and larger library.

“My interest is, ‘Where do we go when this is all over?’” Mr. Filorimo said. “How many years are we going to live with this new library?”

The former Queens resident also observed that many of his newer neighbors frequent the Hampton Bays Library, suggesting that all have a vested interest in seeing the facility improved.

As for Ms. King, she’s confident that the current board will gain the community’s support before the referendum. She also noted that the proposed expansion is, by far, the largest project ever advanced during her 10-year tenure.

She noted that advancements in technology, in particular, have increased demands for more space and that such programming has attracted more and more patrons over the years. “When I started 10 years ago, there were only a few computers for people to use,” she said. Today, the facility boasts approximately three dozen computers. It also has six iPads and about a dozen other tables that can be used by patrons.

“We started to get play-aways to borrow,” Ms. King said, referring to audio books. “Now those are almost obsolete and now we’re lending out iPads and Kindles.

“We found, over the years,” she continued, “that it’s important to lend out these devices for people to become more familiar with technology.”

The new library, if approved and built, will offer more space for computers and other electronic devices.

As for Ms. King, the retired teacher explained that she has always had a love affair with libraries. It is that love, and some fond family memories, that fueled her desire to serve on the library board in her hometown.

“I always loved libraries,” said Ms. King, who grew up in Commack and moved to Hampton Bays with her family when she was a teenager. “As a kid, that’s something my family always did on Saturdays. We would go and borrow books.”

She continued: “When I taught here in Hampton Bays, I took out books and others things for my classroom. I liked the setting and the people who work here.”

Though she must now take a backseat with regard to the renovation project, Ms. King said she still plans to work to ensure its approval. She and her husband, Kelly King, whom she met while both attended the Hampton Bays High School, also plan to start enjoying their retirement.

“We love to travel, so we’ll be doing that,” said Ms. King, who retired from teaching in 2013 and now enjoys gardening and cooking. “I’m really enjoying retirement … I’m taking a little bit of rest from all of this.”

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Sandpiper? Is this the same builder that estimated $18 million for the school in Easthampton that ended up costing $80 million?
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jan 19, 16 12:48 PM
2 members liked this comment
oops I mean Sandpebble.
By davidf (325), hampton bays on Jan 19, 16 2:03 PM
So the Library Board hires a consultant that was embroiled in lawsuits with the EH School Board 5 years ago. I hope the Library Board has clear and convincing documentation as to why they chose Sandpebble over other bidders for this project.
By G.A.Lombardi (513), Hampton Bays on Jan 19, 16 3:44 PM
This entire process has been outrageous and I urge all HB taxpayers to vote down this referendum. About 300 random individuals showed up to the various forums (in total). I attended one of the meetings and neither the consultant nor the administration could answer basic questions as to WHY HB needs a new library in the digital age of books and research and how many clients actually use the library and for what purpose. It seems that HB library administration wants to reinvent itself as a recreation ...more
By G.A.Lombardi (513), Hampton Bays on Jan 19, 16 1:57 PM
Repair what you have. There is absolutely no need for a new building. Everyone has access to an entire library on their phone nowadays.

A 24,000 sq ft library in HB? So people can rent ipads?

Its almost insane. Do they still have those newspapers with sticks on them?

And it's not just the cost of the building. It's also the operating costs associated with a larger building. More staff, more utilities, more equipment, etc.

Just think of all the microfiche ...more
By C Law (349), Water Mill on Jan 25, 16 7:43 PM
Hot Tubs,SALE, Southampton Village, SouthamptonFest weekend