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Apr 13, 2016 10:38 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

Hampton Bays Library Project Now Stands At $15.8 Million; Board Intends To Buy Adjoining Property

The property that the Hampton Bays Library is buying the house on 3 Argonne Road as part of its construction project. AMANDA BERNOCCO
Apr 21, 2016 1:46 PM

Plans to build a new Hampton Bays Public Library are now expected to cost $15.8 million, or $2.5 million more than originally thought, with a portion of the additional funds earmarked for the purchase—and eventual demolition—of a house on an adjacent property.

Library officials disclosed this week that they have a signed contract with John McKenna, the owner of the house at 3 Argonne Road, to buy both his home and the half-acre property it stands on, if their bond proposition is ultimately approved on Tuesday, June 14, by Hampton Bays taxpayers.

If the proposed 20-year construction bond is approved, the library intends to buy the adjoining property for $390,000, with additional funding set side to finance its eventual demolition. The land purchase is needed to expand the footprint of the new library building, while also providing additional parking—which has always been lacking at the current facility.

The contract to buy adjacent property will be voided if the bond referendum fails, according to library officials.

The remainder of the $2.5 million uptick is being attributed to the costs of combining the two properties, projected increases in interest rates, and underestimated preliminary construction costs.

Hampton Bays Library Board President Madeline O’Keefe explained this week that officials were able to convince Mr. McKenna, whose primary residence is in East Northport, to sell his Argonne Road property to the library, because his mother always loved the educational institution. Mr. McKenna was one of four residents whose properties abut the library who received a letter from Hampton Bays Library Director Susan LaVista in November asking if they would consider selling their properties to the library.

Ms. O’Keefe explained that Mr. McKenna, who could not be reached for comment this week, rents his Hampton Bays home to a pair of nuns who have plans to relocate in the near future. According to Southampton Town records, Mr. McKenna resides in East Northport.

Town records also show that Mr. McKenna bought the house in May 1986, a little more than a decade after it was built. In 2015, the house was assessed by the town at $354,300.

Mr. McKenna has already signed a contract with the library board agreeing to sell his home for $390,000, under the condition that the bond referendum is approved on June 14. The polls will be open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. that day at the Ponquogue Avenue library.

In the fall, Victor Canseco, the owner of Sandpebble Builders in Southampton, estimated the cost of construction of the new library to be about $13.3 million. That figure has since gone up, in part, to cover the cost of buying Mr. McKenna’s house and knocking it down.

Under the original $13.3 million bond, the average Hampton Bays taxpayer, whose property is assessed at $400,000, would have paid an additional $108 annually for the life of the bond to finance the work. With the additional $2.5 million factored in, that same taxpayer can now expect to pay about $20 more a year, or $128 annually for the life of the bond, according to library officials.

If the bond is approved, the library will likely be able to continue operating from a temporary structure that would be installed at the Ponquogue Avenue site. The construction of the new 24,000-sqauare foot, two-story library is expected to take several years to complete—officials have previously estimated that the new facility would not open until the middle of 2019—and the additional land purchase would give officials 1.8 acres total to work with. The current library now sits on a 1.3-acre lot.

Current plans call for the addition of 34 parking spaces, upping the total number of available spots to 101. It was not immediately clear how many additional spaces could be added with the land purchase.

Kevin Verbesey, director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System, explained this week that, unlike municipalities, the boards of association libraries, like Hampton Bays, do not have to request appraisals before making an offer on a property. He noted that such boards operate more like nonprofit organizations, and have their own rules when it comes to the purchase of land.

Ms. O’Keefe explained that before approaching Mr. McKenna, the library board checked the assessed value of his property through the town to decide how much they would be willing to pay.

Ms. LaVista noted that the library board has scheduled a series of public meetings leading up to June’s bond referendum vote to help explain the need for a new building. The first meeting was held this past Tuesday night. That and all future meetings will be held at the library, according to an email from Library Trustee Grace Daly.

The remaining meeting schedule is as follows: Saturday, April 16, at 4 p.m.; Saturday, April 23 at 10 a.m.; Monday, May 9, at 3:30 p.m.; Thursday, May 12, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, May 21, at 10 a.m.; and Tuesday, June 7, at 6 p.m.

“The meetings are just to inform our voters and taxpayers how we got to this point, a brief presentation showing them this visually, and just to be available to answer questions and make sure everyone knows when the date is,” Ms. LaVista said.

She added that the board is encouraging all Hampton Bays taxpayers to attend at least one of the meetings so they can make an educated decision in June.

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$130.00 a year for twenty years? And the Hampton Bays School District will probably break the 2% cap next year asking for more money from us. Are you kidding me? Both the Library and the School district are working together to squeeze every penny from Hampton Bays residents. A library that serves as a baby-sitting service throughout the day should not get one cent from Hampton Bays workers. Ask your kids when was the last time they used the library? Vote NO for this utterly irresponsible attempt ...more
By PeterJ10 (2), Hampton Bays on Apr 13, 16 11:22 AM
4 members liked this comment
yes this is getting out of hand,the days of going to a library to borrow a book is coming to an end with the arrival of ebooks and internet.If you want room for yoga and rakie let the private propert owners respond to that need.Vote No to this preposterous plan..we have a library and if its not good enough for the present board then raise the money from private doners not the hard pressed tax payer.ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Apr 13, 16 11:59 AM
Agreed will be voting NO to this.. Complete crap fix the town and all the eye sores before building this useless building
By bigblue84 (89), Hampton Bays on Apr 13, 16 12:53 PM
3 members liked this comment
Ya know there is a thing called the Internet now, where people can find information for FREE and even read books for FREE or sometimes for a small price..

Logic would lead us to believe that the Library budget would steadily decrease. I really hope the Hampton Bays taxpayers will get out and vote No to this referendum.
By tranquility1985 (25), Hampton Bays on Apr 13, 16 2:57 PM
According to the 2010 census there were 13,603 residents in Hampton Bays. So, $15.3M/13,603 = $1,124.75 per resident. What a great deal considering you can buy a kindle or other internet ready device for $70 bucks and find free wifi services practically anywhere.
By dhehyo (11), Southampton on Apr 14, 16 8:25 AM
Spread the word!

By PeterJ10 (2), Hampton Bays on Apr 13, 16 4:40 PM
2 members liked this comment
There is no need for this wasteful project. I can think of many more important projects that need to get done in Hampton Bays. We all need to spread the word to vote no.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Apr 13, 16 5:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
I wish I could vote no to this ridiculous plan! I will make all of my HB friends aware of the situation for sure.
By GoldenBoy (351), EastEnd on Apr 13, 16 6:26 PM
Almost everyone is against this, I can't vote - second home, have no say, PLEASE get all HB residents to revolt against this terrible waste of money! HB taxes are already way too high compared to other East End towns - stop this insanity NOW!! Ten years from now no one will even know what a Library was.
By HamptonDad (236), Hampton Bays on Apr 13, 16 8:15 PM
What a farce. Vote Hell No.
By dnice (2346), Hampton Bays on Apr 13, 16 9:03 PM
As a resident of Hampton Bays this is totally un called for. Want to talk about wasting tax payers money. Can anyone can please tell me who is in charge over there? This person or persons need to be looked into. 15.3 million for a library. Whoever is in charge over there needs to be looked into for corruption and see if they are filling their pockets. This is such a waste of money. We already have a nice library. Why do we need a new one so the workers can have a bigger coffee room or a bigger sleeping ...more
By islander6615 (133), hampton bays on Apr 14, 16 6:15 AM
1 member liked this comment
The Library seems to be a community center for a hodge podge of services. If there is a need for after school programs, those that need it should address it - the library should not be used as a de-facto after school center. Most of the adult programs can and are already run in other community centers in Hampton Bays - the senior center, the lodge at Squiretown Park, various houses of worship, the adult program at the school. The current building has 20,000 square feet of usable space and was ...more
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Apr 14, 16 8:10 AM
Gee our kids can't afford to stay here when they graduate. I wonder why? Lmao
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Apr 14, 16 8:38 PM
1 member liked this comment
Who comes up with these outrageous spending ideas! Taxes for Hampton Bays residents is already out of control. This is Why our children cant afford to live here unless they stay with their parents! Ridiculous! Vote no to this absurd proposal!
By minnie mouse (9), southampton on Apr 15, 16 8:46 AM
The Board of the Hampton Bays Library is an appointed, un-elected board, just like the Westhampton Free Library's Board of Trustees. Taxpayers in our community have been asking for an elected board since last summer, and the Board won't budge, disenfranchising the WH taxpayer. (The Press has quite a few articles on this fight for our basic right to vote, plus Letters to the Editor, and even a Viewpoint piece.) It is a simple trustee vote to amend the bylaws to change to an elected board. 13 of ...more
By st (129), westhampton beach on Apr 18, 16 3:51 PM
Sad to see all the negativity. Have any of you attended any of the meetings either last year or currently to understand WHY this is being put forth? Just asking.
By me2 (1), Hampton Bays on Apr 15, 16 11:40 AM
1 member liked this comment
Yes I have. It was presented that $1 million would bring the building up to date. IMHO, there is no reason to destroy a structurally sound building for more room for programs that can be relocated to other Taxpayer funded buildings.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Apr 15, 16 12:14 PM
1 member liked this comment
Heartening to see all the common sense.
By PQ1 (167), hampton bays on Apr 19, 16 6:09 PM
I tried to attend a meeting but was told that I could not attend because I did not pre-register!
By loveeastendguy (3), hampton bays on May 2, 16 3:29 PM
We do not need to demolish a perfectly sound building,reconfigure the existing space,if you need more parking then purchase the adjoing property,there is valid reason to spend and fix something that is not broken....enough is enough.
By watchdog1 (543), Southampton on Apr 18, 16 12:24 PM
1 member liked this comment
The library board has lost all sense ability proposing this rediculous project.
First is was 13 million, and now it's up to 15.8 million. The construction
hasn't started yet. Plus, another $130.00 a year per taxpayer for twenty years.
There will be a tax increase that will last forever. It is my hope that common
sense will prevail with the residents of Hampton Bays, and this obscure proposed project will overwhelmingly be voted down.
By Jimion (129), Hampton Bays on Apr 22, 16 1:15 PM
Can someone please post when and where to vote NO to this? Is it only Hampton Bays residents or other towns?
By hamptonsgrl (3), east quogue on Apr 23, 16 6:49 PM
The vote is set for June 14th at the Library. Only voters in the Hampton Bays Library District can vote. Get the word out to your Hampton Bays friends.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Apr 24, 16 7:51 AM
Sandpebble became the anointed king. they did the survey and came up with the budget. Is it a real budget any input from competitive Construction o Management Companies . The answer is no becaus they had the inside hook. Smoke and mirror Victor Cansseco go away.
By cottagekeeper (7), Hampton Bays on Apr 24, 16 7:28 AM
1 member liked this comment
Sandpebble became the anointed king. they did the survey and came up with the budget. Is it a real budget any input from competitive Construction o Management Companies . The answer is no becaus they had the inside hook. Smoke and mirror Victor Cansseco go away.
By cottagekeeper (7), Hampton Bays on Apr 24, 16 7:33 AM
1 member liked this comment
I wonder how much of the $15 million is the Sandpebble fee to manage the construction if the referendum passes for the library. so much for providing unbiased data.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Apr 25, 16 9:43 AM
I live in Westhampton Beach. I understand that Sandpebble built our Village Hall, our new Firehouse, our new Library, and they (I believe) are on board for the renovation/expansion to our 5 year old library building. And now Hampton Bays Library. Did these jobs get bid out? Even if there is no impropriety whatsoever, it may be said it gives the appearance as such.
By st (129), westhampton beach on Apr 27, 16 7:34 AM
Do you know if the WHB Projects were bid out? Based on my understanding, Sandpebble is not a builder but a construction management company. Based on the information provided, Sandpebble was originally hired to provide an "objective" assessment of the current library building. It has snowballed into a new building with Sandpebble being the facilitator of meetings attended by less than 200 individuals. Now we are told that Sandpebble will be the project manager without the library bidding out ...more
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Apr 27, 16 8:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
I don't know for certain if the jobs were bid out. Many of us tend to think they weren't. It's probably easy enough to find out though. Interestingly, we FOILed the WHF Library's general liability loss runs because we knew that an employee of the painting subcontractor fell and sued. We noticed a $500,000 claim on the Library's loss runs, and we noticed that, too, the Library's insurance nearly doubled from that year forward (the year the person fell and sued). We heard that in the late spring ...more
By st (129), westhampton beach on Apr 27, 16 4:19 PM
The New York State Office of The State Comptroller has a Division of Investigation set up to review potential/alleged mismanagement and waste. There is a complaint form on their website.
By HB Proud (889), Hampton Bays on Apr 27, 16 5:10 PM
who appoints this board?
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on Apr 27, 16 6:15 PM
The board appoints themselves.

When these association libraries were founded, the original founders became the trustees of the "private corporation." Wealthy benefactors and fundraisers maintained the libraries in the early days, but when the libraries needed more money, school districts levied taxes on residents.

(Which brings me to HB Proud's comment above. Thank you for that information. I'll look into it further, but we've explored some of those avenues and the problem is ...more
By st (129), westhampton beach on Apr 28, 16 7:08 AM
I do not understand some of the Library Board's logic here. If parking has always (and continues to be) a problem here, why are they making the purchase of the adjoining property contingent on the $15 million expansion. Why don't they plan to buy it one way or another? That would be $350,000 well-spent. How often does adjoining property come up for sale?
On the other side of the coin, the proposed new building plans seem far too ambitious. While it is laudable that the library has so many activities ...more
By baywoman (165), southampton on Apr 30, 16 10:20 AM
East Hampton school has been battling in court with Sandpebble for years and it is costing a fortune. HB residents should do some homework on Sandpebble before the voting takes place.
By xtiego (698), bridgehampton on May 2, 16 4:08 PM
1 member liked this comment