HARRISON, N.Y. – Several Harrison residents urged the town board at Wednesday night’s meeting to support renovations to the library, which would cost taxpayers $1.1 million.
“The library is very important as it’s been an educational, recreational, cultural hub in our town for over 100 years,” said Ross Halperin, executive director of the Harrison Public Library Foundation (HPLF). “All of that is unfortunately at risk due to the infrastructure we have, which was built in the ‘60s and then added to in the 80s.”
Many others spoke at the meeting, including two teens who called it "one of the weakest libraries in Westchester County" and library board members who spoke of its importance during Hurricane Sandy.
Halperin and dozens of others have helped raise $1,288,143 – leaving them short of their $3.6 million goal for renovations.
The town, which owns the building, is being asked to take care of electrical, HVAC, fire protection and plumbing for an estimated total of $1,096,998. Those must be addressed before major renovations can take place to the interior and exterior of the library, Halperin said.
“We are all in favor of expanding the library,” said Mayor Ron Belmont. “It has to get done.”
However, Belmont added that Harrison “is in a tough situation right now” when it comes to adopting a budget under the state-mandated 2 percent tax cap.
He said that infrastructure must be improved throughout Harrison and they would try to do so with the library.
Renovations would include an expanded children’s area and teen center, plus 29 more computers for what Halperin said was “a truly once in a generation project.” The exterior, considered to be “ugly and uninviting,” Halperin said, would feature better use of windows to bring sunlight into the building.
“We’ve been working at this a long time,” said Halperin of his fellow donors. “We’ve put our heart and soul into it.”
Discussions will be ongoing between Halperin, library officials and the town over the coming months, the mayor said.