How did the library determine the need for the referendum?

The Board of Trustees of the Cornwall Library embarked on a long-range planning process in August 2010 with the formation of a Long Range Strategic Planning Committee. The committee consisted of trustees, the library director, library staff members and members of the Friends of the Library.

The committee solicited community input through both a paper and an online survey along with a series of focus groups. In total, 313 people participated in the survey process. The committee published its Long-Range Strategic Plan in October, 2011. The plan’s chief recommendation was to renovate the library to create additional meeting space and separate active areas.

What is the importance of the project?

The renovation project will allow the Cornwall Library to grow in size and sophistication to meet the changing demands of the community. This is a critical investment that will help sustain Cornwall’s wonderful quality of life and strong home values.

Does the library need any major improvements to the existing building?

Yes. The library needs a new roof and a new sprinkler system. Engineers hired for the master plan discovered improper construction. Pursuing the original contractors is no longer a viable option and the repairs are needed to maintain the structure of the building. Also, fire safety codes and ADA compliance standards have changed since the library was constructed. For example, when the library was built, a sprinkler system was not required by code. Not only is it now required for new construction, but it is recommended for the safety of our patrons.

Are more people using the library now?

Overall library use has increased by 142% over the last five years while the Cornwall population and school enrollment have also continued to rise. Ebook collections (up 295%), Web site annual visits (up 98%), program attendance (up 37%), reference transactions (up 145%) and book collections (up 25%) have all increased over the last five years.

Are other libraries in the region expanding?

Libraries across the region and the nation are transforming into cultural community centers by reconfiguring their buildings to feature more space for people, programming, technology and enrichment activities. Here is a list of libraries in the region that plan or have already completed recent expansion projects:

— Monroe Free Library: Currently expanding

— Washingtonville: Planning referendum to fund expansion

— Monticello: Approved referendum in 2012 to build new library

— Warwick (Albert Wisner): Built a new library in 2009

— Nyack: Added new wing in 2011

What will the construction of the expanded facilities cost?

The total cost of the project will be $3.68 million to be financed over 20 years.

How much will the project cost Cornwall taxpayers?

The estimated cost per household for a home with a median full market value ($265,000) would be an additional $41 per year or about 78 cents per week. The original bond for the construction of the building was paid off in 2013.

How much space will be added?

The renovation project will add an additional 3,300 square feet and increase the overall size of the library by 30 percent.

What are the key components of the project?

The renovation project will address several crucial building improvements while adding significantly more space for programming and meetings. Here are the key additions:

  • 3,300 additional square feet
  • New roof, sprinkler system along with other necessary improvements
  • Expanded community room with maximum seating capacity of 112
  • Designated local history room and teen room
  • More computer workstations for residents of all ages
  • Increased gallery space for local artists to display their work
  • Four flexible meeting rooms to accommodate local groups simultaneously as well as larger programs

What will be the specific community benefits of the project?

By increasing the library’s square footage by 30 percent, the library will be able to serve more residents with even more programs. Here are specific community benefits that will be created by expanding the library:

Teen room: The library will be able to expand its after-school activities for teenagers and introduce more teen-specific programming. Interactive educational software and graphic design computers will be available for teenagers to use.

Computers: The library will add computer workstations for residents of all ages to use. Additional power stations for laptops and other electronic equipment will be added throughout the library and built into many of the furnishings.

Cultural events: The expanded community room will allow the library to host concerts and other larger cultural events. In addition, the new community room will be able to host certain educational programs for which they don’t currently qualify due to minimum size requirements.

Meeting space: Because of the library’s limited meeting rooms, requests from tutors, community groups and local businesses are often declined. Under the plan, the library’s community room will more than double in size with a total seating capacity of 112 and a total of four flexible meeting rooms will be available.

When and where is the referendum scheduled?

The referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the library. Ballots can be cast anytime between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Who is eligible to vote?

All registered voters who live in the Cornwall School District are eligible to participate in the referendum.

What is a bond issue?

A bond issue can simply be defined as a loan. The library district borrows money by issuing tax-exempt alternative revenue municipal bonds. The bond issue payments will be made with the levy of annual property tax on all taxable real estate in the district.

When will the renovations be completed?

The renovations are expected to be completed in mid-2016.

Will the library remain open during the construction?

During construction, the library will relocate to another building in Cornwall and continue to offer services and programming. The exact location has not been determined yet.

How will the renovation project affect the library’s relationship with the school district?

The project will strengthen our partnership with the Cornwall School District and help achieve our shared vision of providing greater access to information, learning and enrichment activities for Cornwall’s young people.

What happens if the referendum fails?

If the referendum fails, the demand for more space and resources will continue to grow and drastically exceed what the library can provide.

Why does this all need to be done now? Why can’t we just do the repairs?

This is an ideal time for several reasons. Since the library completed its Long-Range Strategic Plan in 2011, the board of directors has been developing this plan that addresses all of the future needs of the community. At the same time, the building needs major repairs that need to be resolved soon. From a financial perspective, interest rates remain very low.