Town parkland to be leased for Medford library branch
A total of 1.48 acres of parkland located at the Medford Athletic Complex has been approved for alienation to be leased to the Patchogue-Medford Library for the construction of a Medford branch, as of a June 6 Town of Brookhaven special meeting awaiting approval from both houses (Assembly and Senate).
According to the town, they own 23 acres of active parkland on Horseblock Road, of which just under an acre and a half is to be used for the creation of an annex of the Patchogue-Medford Library. The branch, according to the town, will be constructed using environmentally friendly methods and materials, will be designed to enhance the town park and will be open for community events.
Patchogue-Medford Library director Danielle Paisley said the total project is anticipated to cost about $2.5 million for the construction of a one-story, 5,000-square-foot building. The land, she said, will be leased for $1 a year from the town and funds for the project have been obtained through a $1.5 million donation from the Medford Hamlet Foundation. Remaining costs, she said, will be fundraised, sought through grants and, if necessary, a small mortgage, with as minimal costs to the taxpayer as possible. Approval will not require a vote, she said, but rather become a line item on a future budget.
“The community always wanted to use that money towards building a community center, but it just was never enough,” she said. “So, now they would like to give it to the library, which is considered a community center and will offer meeting space and lots of public programs.”
Back in 2014, the state planned to partner up with Brookhaven Town on the construction of a roughly $4.5 million community center at the Medford Athletic Complex at the corner of Route 112 and Horseblock Road. However, those plans fell through due to red tape in Albany.
Joan Travan, president of the Medford Hamlet Foundation, said that of the $1.5 million donation, the foundation raised $1 million and the town dedicated the other half-million to the project. “It’s very hard getting over to Patchogue from Medford. There’s a lot of traffic and no parking,” she said, happy to finally see this project come to fruition after 12 years of trying.
Originally, Travan said, the foundation attempted to purchase what they call the “wedge” located on Route 112 near Tremont Elementary School for a community center, however, it was always too expensive and they never succeeded.
“Finally,” she said, also hoping to maybe one day see a water park built beside the new library for the children. “This is a very nice spot and a great project to partner with the library on.”
The branch, according to Paisley, though in the very preliminary stages, will offer about twice the size of the library’s Carnegie Library branch located on Main Street in Patchogue Village and will offer everything as in the main library on a smaller scale, including children’s, teen, adult and bestsellers sections, as well as computers and public meeting spaces. All materials, she said, will be shuffled between libraries and programming will take place in the community rooms. Main library staff will be repositioned in addition to new hires being added. She also hopes to see the town help create a learning garden and some landscaping as well as a parking lot.
“It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it is. The current library uses public parking and it’s always hard for patrons to find a spot,” she added.
The branch will not only offer a community space for the residents of Medford but also a closer library resource than the main library currently located on Main Street in Patchogue Village. According to Paisley, depending on the time of day, it could take some Medford residents up to 30 minutes to travel to the library in traffic.
“We are really looking forward to the annex being in Medford. The library on Main Street in Patchogue really isn’t conducive to a majority of the community when it comes to location,” said councilman Neil Foley. “The building is going to open up a whole new world for both Medford and the library.”
“Instead of going south, they can head up north,” Paisley added. “The Eagle Estates community has been really supportive. They have a lot of young families really looking forward to this.”
Paisley said she hopes to break ground as soon as possible pending legislation. “We are just waiting now,” she said. Eventually, a bidding process will begin and testing, planning, designing and permitting will all take place before shovel hits ground.
“We really want to make this happen. In 1966 we tried to build a branch in Medford, then they tried five or six more times, but no one was able to do it,” she added. “We all feel like this is the cheapest and best way to get it done.”
In order to authorize the lease, the land was alienated in a unanimous board vote last week, however, it now requires approval from both the state Assembly and Senate prior to end of session on June 20.
Assemb. Dean Murray (R,C,I-East Patchogue) said he has been working to pass the local bill with NYS Sen. John Flanagan. The process, he explained, must alienate the parkland in exchange for preserving additional parkland, which is to be determined.
“We are really pushing to get this done before end of session,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer and something that really should pass.”
That is, he said, if it makes it to the floor among procedural messes and all the senators and assemblymen and women trying to approve their local bills.
“I am cautiously optimistic, but this is a top priority for me,” he added. “This is something the Medford community has been wanting for years. I think it’s great and I am glad everyone is on board.”
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