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Voters Say Purchase Free Library Should Not Be Evicted From Community House

A majority of voters in Purchase decided last week that their 90-year-old free library should remain a tenant at Purchase Community House in the town of Harrison. Photo Credit: Jon Craig
These signs recently appeared on Purchase Community House property that includes the free library as a tenant. Photo Credit: Jon Craig

This story has been updated.

PURCHASE, N.Y. -- Purchase Free Library will remain within its "home" of nearly 90 years following a vote of residents verified on Friday..

The vote of adults living within the Purchase Elementary School District was completed Wednesday during a meeting at Purchase Community House, 3095 Purchase St. Purchase Community Inc. (PCI) owns the building occupied by the library and serves as its landlord.

"It was a long night for everyone and the Inspector did not finish counting the ballots until (Friday) afternoon,'' according to James Kelly, director of Purchase Community Inc.

The Library prevailed on both resolutions.  The Purchase Community House will, as directed by the members, negotiate a lease that will allow the Purchase Free Library to remain in the Community House.

"The response by the community was extraordinary, with over half of all eligible members casting ballots,'' Kelly said. "We now look forward to returning to the important task of serving our community."

About 2,900 people were eligible to vote.

Justine Gaeta, president of Purchase Community Inc. said, “We respect the wishes of the members and will work with the Library’s Board of Directors to negotiate a new lease. This has been a divisive issue, yet I am hopeful that we all can work constructively to reach an acceptable agreement which will benefit all the residents of Purchase. ”

The Purchase Community House's 17-member Board of Directors voted last year to end the library's tenancy after serious safety incidents, Kelly said..

The library's board declined to consider moving.

The first ballot initiative asked members if the library should remain located at the Purchase Community House. The second initiative was a vote amending the PCI bylaws to include a provision where any eviction of the library would require a vote of the Purchase-area residents, and not just an independent action by PCI’s Board of Directors.

A lawsuit was filed in September 2014 in Westchester County Supreme Court in White Plains to halt the eviction process.It was initiated by Martha Greenberg, president of the library’s board of trustees, and 52 other Purchase-area residents. The ballot language and election date were agreed to during the court proceedings.

Safety concerns stem from non-threatening loitering incidents in the Community House’s parking lot during the summer of 2013.

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