I Attended a meeting sponsored by the Library Board on Tuesday night. The Library Board unveiled an 18 to 20 million dollar proposal to expand the library at the existing library site. If this proposal is implemented the entire site (Library and old Town Hall) will be taken over the Library. A referendum is planned for 2005. You, the voters, will make the ultimate decision whether the library expansion should happen.
A question was discussed: Should the referendum be held in March or November?
Advocates for a March referendum claim that the town could save a substantial amount of money because the costs of construction keep going up. And, they also claim that if a referendum is held in November the Library will lose a construction season since a good chunk of the initial work can't take place during the winter months. Some advocates suggested that the referendum be held at the library (one location) to keep costs down or at a handful of locations.
Town Clerk Alfreda Williams indicated that if a referendum is held it should be held at different locations. She also indicated that having a referendum in March would cost between $15,000 and $75,000 (costs for election inspectors). She is currently working on a proposed budget. A November referendum would cost the taxpayers nothing because an election is already scheduled.
I believe that the referendum should be held in November. This would provide residents with an opportunity to digest the proposal and give more people an opportunity to ask questions and to understand the need for a library expansion. Between now and November there could be more outreach community meetings --providing officials with a chance to inform the community. It's possible that some good ideas generated between now and November can be incorporated in an expansion plan. It's also possible that some cost savings measures could also be proposed and debated.
A November referendum makes sense for another reason: November,2005 is election day for town officials - the Town Supervisor, Town Clerk, 2 Town Board members are up for re-election. More people will probably turn out for a November election than for a March election. I think that it makes sense for the maximum number of people to participate in an important decision --such as the library expansion. Our process should be as open as possible. Please e mail me your thoughts. PAUL FEINER