Medford library annex stuck in Assembly
The Medford annex of the Patchogue-Medford Library, announced earlier this year to be built on town parkland located on Horseblock Road, never made it to the NYS Assembly floor by end of session in June, preventing further action.
Assemb. Dean Murray (R,C,I-East Patchogue), who has been working to pass the local bill with majority leader and NYS Sen. John Flanagan, said rifts in the Assembly prevented the bill from alienating the property, and it was among hundreds of other local bills throughout the state that never reached the floor.
“It was supposed to happen but, unfortunately, it did not,” he said. “It had nothing to do with the bill itself. Everyone agreed it had good merit, but it got caught up in the political games.”
Technically, he explained, he could be called back to Albany before his end of term in January, with the potential to pass the bill, but said frankly he doubts that will happen, rather hoping to see the bill passed early next year. The bill already passed through the Senate earlier this year at end of session in June.
“There is still hope for it,” he added, also referencing that Republican Joe DeStefano of Medford would be taking his seat after vacating it for a chance at Sen. Tom Croci’s (R,C,I- Sayville) vacated seat. “There is no doubt it will get done, it’s just a matter of when.”
The branch will eventually offer a space for the community, but also a much closer library resource for the residents of Medford. The main library, currently located on Main Street in Patchogue Village, depending on the time of day takes residents traveling from Medford up to 30 minutes to get to.
The town owns approximately 23 acres of active parkland, including the Medford Athletic Complex on Horseblock Road, of which 1.48 acres will be used for the creation of the annex and has already been approved by the Town of Brookhaven for alienation as of a June 6 special meeting.
The branch, according to the town, will be constructed using environmentally friendly methods and materials, designed to enhance the park and be open for community events. According to councilman Neil Foley, since the alienation has already been approved at the town level, once it is passed in the Assembly, next steps can be taken.
“Councilman Michael Loguercio and I are on board,” he said. “This is something needed in Medford and it would certainly help everyone utilizing the library’s services.”
At the time of the approval, 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 will be leased for $1 a year from the town and funds for the project have been obtained through a $1.5 donation from the Medford Hamlet Foundation. Remaining costs, according to Paisley, will have to be fundraised, sought through grants and, if necessary, a small mortgage, with as minimal costs to the taxpayer as possible. Approval would not require a vote, but rather become a line item on a future budget.
Once built, the annex will be about twice the size of the Carnegie Library branch located on Main Street in Patchogue Village and offer everything in the main library on a smaller scale, including children’s, teen and adult departments as well as computers and public meeting spaces. Materials will be shuffled between libraries.
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, plans fell through due to red tape in Albany.
“The board of trustees looks forward to continuing the process of establishing a library branch on the property at the Medford Athletic Complex,” said Paisley. “The Town of Brookhaven’s proposal and commitment of Caithness funding, co-sponsored by the Medford Hamlet Foundation, are essential items of this process. With those commitments in place, the library would welcome the opportunity to create a branch in Medford that would improve services to Patchogue-Medford district residents.”
According to Paisley, discussions have been started with local legislators to find out what can be done to help move the project forward. If the bill to annex the property is not passed by Jan. 1, when assemblyman-elect DeStefano begins his first term in the 3rd District, he said he would still see to push it through.
“Being that I live in Medford, [I understand] this is a long time overdue,” he said. “I will do whatever it takes to get it done, working across party lines to see why it’s stalled.”
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