Library renovation project forms advisory committee

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The Harrison Public Library, seen here in its current condition, will soon see its first renovations in more than two decades as members of the Harrison Public Library Foundation continue to raise funds for the final $1 million component. File photo

By DANIEL OFFNER

With four months left to raise $1 million before a Dec. 31 deadline, members of the Harrison Public Library Foundation plan to continue in their efforts to complete the proposed $3.6 million capital renovation project.

Since 2010, members of the foundation have sought to renovate the antiquated facility at 2 Bruce Ave., which has not seen an improvement in more than two decades. Although they initially proposed to match a $1.1 million pledge through private donations and charity fundraisers, the members of the library’s Board of Trustees said they ran into trouble when dealing with the necessary improvements to the building’s maintenance.

After a series of negotiations, the Town of Harrison made an agreement with the foundation on April 4, pledging to contribute $1.1 million for the project, which was deferred so the town could cover the cost of maintenance to the library facility over the next five years, in two parts—$650,000 for the cost of infrastructure improvements and $450,000 from a franchise agreement with Cablevision for a television studio that has been incorporated into the project.

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The proposed library renovations, pictured, will look to satisfy the demands of a community in the 21st century by upgrading the existing infrastructure. File photo

As the clock continues to tick closer to the Dec. 31 deadline, the foundation expects to raise the final $1 million necessary to proceed with the proposed renovations. Should the Halperin Fund fail to raise the money by that time, the project will be executed nonetheless, using the financial commitments already agreed to by the town and the Halperin Fund.

“The project we’d like to do is $3.6 million,” Halperin said, “But if we’re unsuccessful there is another project we can do.”

Although he did not provide any details on what the minimum project would include, Halperin said it would not be to the same scale as the renovations proposed.

Meanwhile, the town—as per its pledge agreement—is now in the process of forming a capital improvement committee, which serves as an advisory group, rendering non-binding advice regarding the administration, design architecture, budgeting, construction and the completion of the capital renovations.

On Aug. 26, Ross Halperin, executive director of the Richard E. Halperin Memorial Fund—so named for Ross’ father, who passed away in 2008—requested the Town Council select its candidates for the capital improvement committee in an effort to hire a managing architect for the project prior to Dec. 1, 2013.

Planning to begin construction in 2014, Halperin said that he hopes to have a managing architect

approved on Dec. 1, 2013 almost a month before the project deadline. The committee, which has not been formed as of press time, will consist of eight members, four of whom will represent each of the town’s four library boards, while the remaining four members will be chosen by the Town Council and approved by the Halperin Fund.

Maureen Skrilow, president of the Harrison Public Library Board of Trustees, said the board is still in the process of selecting candidates.

Having already hired H3Hardy, an architectural firm commissioned to design the project, the pledge agreement further states that the final construction document will be executed under a third-party contractor.

Halperin said that, while the committee will have the chance to make a decision on the contracting firm, the Halperin Fund and Town Council will evaluate all potential contractors beforehand.

But, while the foundation looks to get its ducks in a row before selecting a contractor for the project, library supporters still need to make up some financial ground in order to reach their target.
Library director Galina Chernykh said the library has been doing all it can to raise money for the project.

“This summer was a little slow,” Chernykh said. “Hopefully, we can get what we need.”

Although the summer months did not drive the donations necessary, the renovation project was able to raise $50,000 from the Javitch Foundation—which is named after Harrison resident Lee Javitch, who passed away last April—towards the proposed Early Childhood center, and the Jarden Corporation—a Rye-based Fortune 500 company—pledged to contribute $1 for every $2 contributed by the local corporate community, up to $100,000.

Contact: dan@hometwn.com