It's Germane

The John Jermain Library's Weblog

Update Archive

Updates that previously appeared on the main page of this section are archived here in reverse chronological order.

Project Update – May 27, 2010

It looks like we’ll still be in our historic building when our hundredth birthday rolls around on October 10th, ready to celebrate with cake, ice cream and live music.

On Tuesday, May 24th, the Sag Harbor Planning Board determined that there may be one or more significant adverse environmental impacts as a result of the library expansion and renovation project, resulting in a Positive Declaration (Pos Dec). This means that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIS) must be prepared by the library and its consultants for submission to the Planning Board for Board and public review. Among the topics we have been asked to address with the hope of avoiding or minimizing the environmental impact are: Parking allocations; Possible traffic increases due to a larger library; Pedestrian and parking safety; Impact of the construction phase on traffic, noise, air quality etc.; Construction methodology; Archaeological impacts; Impact of geothermal system; Impact of both exterior and interior lighting on the neighborhood; Impact of increased energy usage on the neighborhood; Impact of increased waste discharge on the neighborhood and the groundwater; Impacts of changed landscaping on the neighborhood; and, Impacts of our move to a temporary space, including many of the items above (noise, parking, increased traffic, etc.).

Although we have most of this information already, and have submitted much of it to the Planning Board as part of the application process we began in October, it will take some time to compile it in the format required by SEQR. It needs to be submitted to the Planning Board a minimum of ten days before a scheduled meeting for members to review. We probably cannot make the deadline for the June meeting, pushing our next review to July 27th. At that point the Planning Board has a maximum 45 days to request more information, or accept the Draft EIS. Once the Draft EIS is accepted the public is given a minimum of 30 days for review and comment. This comment period may include a public meeting. All public comments are part of the public record and must be responded to by the lead agency (in our case the Planning Board). Their response may include a request for more information from the library; this new information also must be reviewed by the Board and the public.

Once the EIS is deemed complete, the Lead Agency must publish notice and wait 10 days before taking other action. Additional public comments may be taken during this time. Those comments become part of the public record but no agency response is required. Their ruling on the project follows the completion of this process.

After that, the project is moved to the Zoning Board, the Board of Preservation and Architectural Review, The Harbor Committee, and the Village Trustees who are reviewing our application to connect to the sewer. Once the Trustees have made a ruling, our application is submitted to the Suffolk County Health Department.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation issued a formal “No Adverse Impact” statement last July 21st, and a second “No Adverse Impact” statement in November specifically related to archaeology of the site.

I do not think we will break ground this fall, as the foundation for the addition needs to be poured when ambient nighttime temperatures are no lower than the upper 30s (in fact, a bit warmer is better). We may be able to begin work on repairs to the historic building, including brickwork and damaged cornice–and possibly the leaking roof and skylight—after obtaining a building permit and a Certificate of Appropriateness from the ARB in advance of the final ruling. However, the scheduling of this work depends in part on the availability of funds.

We have been working for almost a year with the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) a state agency that arranges for the funding of public and civic projects through the sale of low-interest bonds. DASNY will not approve our application until the SEQR process is completed; they do not want to award monies to a project without guarantee that it will be approved by local agencies. Our annual operating funds are totally discreet from construction funds, and will not be used for the project in any way as a result of this decision: We’re committed to providing our community with books, CDs and DVDs, local history information, research assistance and programs for children, teens and adults. The JJML Board of Trustees is exploring available financing alternatives now.

For more information, please stop by my office or consult the links below:
The SEQR process: http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/357.html
EIS: http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6189.html
The SEQRA handbook: http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/permits_ej_operations_pdf/seqrhandbook.pdf

Catherine Creedon, Director
catherine@johnjermain.org

Traffic and Parking Study Available

On Tuesday April 27th the Sag Harbor Planning Board held a public meeting on the Library’s renovation and expansion project, which included a presentation by the Library’s Traffic Consultant, David Emilita. His full report, including an aerial photograph of parking in the area surrounding the Library, is posted below.

Traffic and Parking Supplement To the Part I Environmental Assessment Form

Traffic and Parking Supplement #2 To the Part I Environmental Assessment Form

John Jermain Memorial Library 800′ Parking Analysis

Work Begins In the Nick of Time

Dec. 13, 2009 -I’m sure my colleagues and I will long remember the unplanned events of December 9th. You might remember that we had rain that day. Quite a bit of it. I arrived early in anticipation of emptying buckets, and found the toilets clogged. I called the plumber, who told me it was the cesspool. I protested that it couldn’t be the cesspool, as I’d recently had it pumped, until I remembered that all that rain, in a feat of plumbing no doubt innovative in 1910, travels via pipes from our flat roof, right down through the building, and into our cesspool. Before the cesspool folks arrived, the rainwater had backed up and flooded the bathroom. And the backroom had a new leak, with no bucket underneath it, and the back room flooded. And then the furnace wouldn’t work. And the rain had swollen the outer door so that it wouldn’t lock properly. And right about that time a truckload of scaffolding was delivered.


That scaffolding, erected along the southeast corner of the library, and on the stairs to the third floor, will be used to facilitate thermal-imaging and exploratory probes of the building to determine the nature and condition of the structure. The data collected will eventually be used to help us correct all those plumbing and heating problems (not that we didn’t have fun that day). These photos were taken on December 10th, after the deluge had ended.

September 2009 Update

Nearly two years have passed since I began working at John Jermain, and much has changed at the library: Our circulation numbers have increased; my dream of expanding our History Room collection, and digitizing those materials, is a reality thanks to the Friends’ purchase of the Tooker manuscript; a successful referendum vote has provided for the appropriation of funds to restore, expand, and add accessibility to our historic building. The community was instrumental in this process : Asking difficult and challenging questions throughout the planning, attending meetings, helping with outreach, and perhaps most importantly, abiding by a vision of stewardship in the face of uncertainty and exploration about just what the library should be, always with an eye to the library’s future.

And now—the future is here, made brighter by the renovation and expansion project. Within days of the positive referendum results I had prepared an informational package on the building program for the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). The JJML facility, as a “contributing building within the National Register-listed Sag Harbor Historic District,” must, by law, be reviewed by OPRHP before any changes or additions are made to the structure. On July 21st I received official notice stating “…it is the opinion of the OPRHP that the proposed addition in theory will have No Adverse Impact on the historic and cultural resources of Sag Harbor.”

On July 28th I met with Chris Barletta and Victor Conseco from Sandpebble Builders, Michael Scott and Richard Munday from Newman, along with their colleague Erin Gallagher, who will be acting as the project architect, and Vinnie Gardiello from Raynor who will be doing our site survey. After a general discussion on the project we were joined by Board President Diane Gaites who accompanied us to a meeting with various representatives from the village including Tony Tohill (lawyer for the village boards), Richard Warren (land use consultant for the village), Neil Slevin (Head of Planning Board), Cee Scott Brown (head of ARB) and Gil Flanagan, land use lawyer for JJML. The meeting covered a variety of issues including: parking, a parking study, site survey requirements, permitting process, Environmental Impact Statement, SEQR, project timing, etc.

Newman, Sandpebble, and I are taking part in weekly conference calls to review progress, concerns and questions. The calls, which run about two hours, are a useful way to keep all parties involved in the various aspects of the project.

I have final word from the State that the amendments to our charter, clarifying the boundaries of our service area, are complete. And I met with Joe Price, our insurance agent, to discuss changes in our coverage that we will need during the construction phase. I also updated our collection numbers and values with him to provide for adequate funds to replace our materials in case of damage during the move to a temporary space.

Fieldwork on the Site Survey has begun. Bids were sent out for a Hazardous Materials Consultant and a Traffic study was completed over Labor Day weekend. In the next few weeks we will have updated drawings and elevations. Please leave a comment below, stop by my office or call to share your ideas.

April 2009 Update

The Board of Trustees has been moving forward on plans for the library’s renovation and expansion, testing a variety of models, and balancing the informational and accessibility needs of the community against the realities of this time. They have now set a referendum vote for Monday, June 29th from noon to 8:00 p.m. I have been working closely with Newman Architects, a cost estimator, preservationists and other consultants, contractors, and village officials to get everything in place by then. I’ve yet to rake my yard, or do any spring-cleaning, but it’s been worth it. The plans are beautiful. When I was younger and had more time I used to sew most of my clothes. There was always that moment, pattern pieces and fabric scraps scattered across the worktable, when I knew that I had something. That’s exactly what I feel now.

The library has scheduled public meetings for Monday, April 20th and Wednesday, May 6th at 5:15 to review options, plans and costs for the renovation and expansion of John Jermain.

We are still working on the details of these plans, trying to balance a critical need for space, accessibility and safety, with the realities of a world that is fluid and full of surprises–but I’m excited by what I’ve seen so far. Much of my time in recent months has been spent in building on the contributions of others that have brought us to this point: former and current board and staff members, various Sag Harbor groups, including the Community Library Committee and the Building Task Force, who have helped evaluate options, and the many patrons who stopped by my office or came to this fall’s public forums to share ideas and dreams. The input of the community has been critical to this process and to the development of solutions.

Much of my time has been spent on this process—but not all of it. Because, as excited as I am about the future, the present has my heart engaged: Our circulation for 2008 was up more than 23% over 2007. Program attendance was up, as was computer use. More people passed through our doors, more questions were asked, and more people made use of our electronic resources. The library was—and is—lively.

We will update this site regularly over the next weeks, adding images as they become available. If you have questions, please post them on this blog—or stop by my office, second floor toward the back. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the library.

— Catherine Creedon

More Renovation and Expansion Information:

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