The WHF Library Appointed Board’s Complete Lack of Transparency and Accountability

At last night’s library board meeting H2M Architects, a Melville-based company tasked with designing a new sewage treatment system for the WHB Village, gave a 35 minute Power Point presentation on the “Attic Renovation.”

Discussed was the 2750 square feet to be added to the present 14,250 square foot building; blueprints were displayed with Option A and Option B; first floor changes; design and construction phases; would the Library be shut down; when might construction begin; professional fees vs. construction costs (though no specific numbers were given); the fact that there’s some “wasted space” though the same architect designed our just 6 year old building; charrettes would take place; sewer credits; might the Library be able to obtain a NYS grant where the money is given to SCLS to distribute; permits; etc.  A whole lot of stuff.

After the presentation, the three architects left the meeting.  I (Sabina Trager) went to the podium for Public Expression and calmly asked why the public wasn’t notified of this presentation.  I asked why The Press wasn’t here.  I asked why emails weren’t sent to patrons (we receive emails about art, movies, budget voting, the Board’s April’s opinion piece titled “Report on the Selection of Trustees” where tax dollars were spent denying taxpayers the right to elect Library Board trustees, etc.), or why a poster wasn’t in the lobby or flyers at the circulation desk informing taxpayers of this important presentation. I said this displays a lack of transparency and accountability, in my opinion.

I was told no one was notified because it’s all “preliminary.”  The presentation certainly seemed definitive to me.

Susan Rosenberg, a trustee appointed to the Board on the day that Joan Levan resigned along with two other trustees, then asked me a question as I stood at the podium: “Do we not ever do anything right by you?  Why must you always attack us?”

I said I am calmly and reasonably asking valid questions as a taxpayer and the question to me is inappropriate.  The above paragraph was exactly what I stated in a conversational, matter-of-fact tone.

It is sad that an appointed board feels “attacked” when a taxpayer asks questions about how their tax dollars are being spent.

Also, the Library’s Long Range Planning Committee, comprised solely of the Library Director and three appointed trustees, released a Report on June 15, 2016.  In it they wrote they are “recommending the commencement of the renovation of the first floor of the library beginning with the request for proposals from local architectural firms.”  I asked the Board last night if they will be putting the architect part out to bid.  They’re not sure.  Apparently they seem inclined to use the same architect that was used for the new building, who now works for H2M.  Though many are unhappy with how the interior of the building was designed, let’s double down on the same architect.

Tax monies in addition to the $1.3 million Skovek donation will be used for this project without a community vote and by an unelected trustee body.  For the record, I don’t believe in more, more, more.  The building is 6 years old.

If you’re not okay with this you need to speak up, to attend monthly board meetings, and to email the Library Board at board@westhamptonlibrary.org.

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