Letter: Support Public-Private Library Partnership

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Harrison Public Library Foundation Executive Director Ross Halperin.
Harrison Public Library Foundation Executive Director Ross Halperin. Photo Credit: Greg Maker
The Harrison Public Library is located at 2 Bruce Ave.
The Harrison Public Library is located at 2 Bruce Ave. Photo Credit: File Photo

HARRISON, N.Y. ‒ The Harrison Daily Voice accepts signed, original letters to the editor. Email them to harrison@dailyvoice.com. The following letter was submitted by Harrison Public Library Foundation Executive Director Ross Halperin.

To the Editor,

The Harrison Town/Village Board has until Feb. 14 to enter into an agreement with a private foundation that has offered to make a $1 million-plus donation to renovate the Downtown Library. If no agreement is signed by then, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will be lost and the library’s future will be at risk. The question is simple: will the Town Board (a) seize a unique, incredibly cost-effective opportunity to solve a major issue, or (b) do nothing and forever be responsible for Harrison’s accelerating infrastructure and property value crises.

The library has been an educational, recreational, and cultural hub for over 100 years and serves all constituencies in our town: children, teenagers, senior citizens, unemployed neighbors, small businesses and everyone in between. In 2011, there were 198,930 total visits to the Library and 9,145 attendances at children’s programs, both increases of 20 percent since 2006.

Unfortunately, the library’s future is at risk, given that its 1960’s and 1980’s infrastructure is unable to service our 21st century community. Harrison ranks 39 of the 42 surrounding communities that we surveyed in terms of the amount of major capital improvements made to library infrastructure in the past 15 years.

Private donors and volunteers are prepared to fix this problem by building a premier, state-of-the-art library facility with $2.5 million in private funds. They cannot do so, however, until the town first agrees to remedy the deferred maintenance in the building, which consists of HVAC, mechanicals, fire protection, plumbing and electrical systems. These systems are outdated and will soon have to be replaced anyway.

The Library Board first identified the need to modernize this facility in 2004 and absolutely nothing has been done since. Now, nine years later, it is time for the Town Council to take this necessary and obvious step, so that we, with private funds, can fix the problem. In doing so, the Town Council members will make a very clear statement that they care more about education, recreation, culture, and property values than the myth that investing no money in public infrastructure is fiscally responsible. Not acting will destroy this one-time opportunity to make Harrison better.

If you are one of the many who do care, please sign this petition and share with your neighbors:

http://www.change.org/petitions/harrison-town-village-board-support-the-proposed-public-private-partnership-to-save-our-library

Ross Halperin

Executive Director

Harrison Public Library Foundation

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