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Carnegie Library May Be Demolished

Landmark in danger if Village cannot afford to maintain the building, mayor says.

The Carnegie Library could soon be no more as Patchogue Village officials wrestle with how to maintain the historic building.

The building, which according to Preserve Nation, has been closed since 1981 when it was sold to . It is currently located on Lake Street, and is scheduled to be moved to a site within Patchogue Village to accomodate .

However, Patchogue Village Mayor Paul Pontieri told Patch that while he wants to keep the library, the costs involved in maintaining the building combined with the new state-mandated two percent tax cap may limit an available revenue stream to support it.

“I’ve talked about how important that library is to me, but there’s a realistic piece that says if we don’t have a use for it how do we carry the cost?” Pontieri said. “How do I say to the taxpayer we have a building here that no one wants to use and have to carry the cost of it?”

After being re-located, which Tritec is obligated to do as part of the development plan, the library will still require hook ups to utilities whether or not it is being used.

Pontieri says that the current restoration of the is an indication of the kind of costs the Village faces in restoring Carnegie Library.

“We are spending right now a million dollars on the restoration of the Winona,” Pontieri said. “Can we afford another million dollars to restore this building?”

The mayor said the village board needs to discuss if there is a use for the library that can justify funding it through taxpayer dollars.

“That’s where the discussion lies," Pontieri said. "It doesn't lie in whether it's historic or not, it’s whether we can afford it."

Rob Loscalzo, chief operation officer at Tritec, says that the company has every intention to still move the library if the Village is on board. The company currently owns the land the library sits on as part of its in downtown Patchogue.

“Our intention was always to donate it to them if it has sentimental value," Loscalzo said. "We are following the Village’s lead on that."

If the Village does not want the library moved, Tritec will demolish it, Loscalzo said.

Between 1886 and 1919, philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated more than $40 million to build 1,679 public libraries across the country, according to the National Trust For Historic Preservation. The Patchogue library holds a special place for several residents, who have previously commented on Patch about its importance.

“There aren't many left, and we have this hidden gem in Patchogue Village. It needs to be preserved and protected,” said in regards to .

"These libraries were a great source of pride to the communities that received them," Ann Salvatore says in her . "Today, across the nation, cities still fortunate to have a Carnegie Library have utilized the buildings in different ways. While some are still operating as libraries, others now serve as community centers or museums."

Pontieri said that the Carnegie Library discussion will continue at next .

Through the Looking Glass October 05, 2011 at 11:56 PM
For this we can thank the owner of the 4 corners properties that held out while the original plans for the property developers went down the drain with a waning real estate market. We won't mention his name, but many know who he is. If the deal had gone through on schedule, perhaps the Library building would have been relocated on the other side of Lake Street as was in the original plans, but his inane foot dragging dragged the deal out far too long, ruining the plans because of a depressing market.
Ann Salvatore October 06, 2011 at 12:57 AM
Mayor Pontieri and Trustee Lori Devlon both agreed that everything possible should be done to save the library. Why are they only now addressing the costs of maintaining the building? What has changed since their original stand? And why is the historical importance of this building being overlooked? Pontieri said. "It doesn't lie in whether its historic or not, it’s whether we can afford it." He's got it wrong. Because it's historical, he should make sure it can be afforded.
Kathleen O'Sullivan October 06, 2011 at 02:13 AM
I am a fairly new resident of Patchogue and love living here for the past four years. I am also an Interior Designer with a strong belief and love for historic preservation. For my thesis project in college, I designed a building which was displayed at the United nations. It was a community center for latch key children and senior citizens to both come together and satisfy a common need. Simply put, there are many children whose parents can not be home for them after school but would greatly benefit from supervision, and there are also many lonely senior citizens that would benefit from being around children. Wouldnt it be great for patchogue to be the leader in such a center in none other then the historic library building.
John Bogack October 06, 2011 at 12:16 PM
I agree the Library should be preserved. However reality is if that is going to be done it will cost money. For the first time in history the Village will have to take into account a two percent cap on its finances when it decides what to do about this issue. That cap can be piereced but if my math is correct it will take the vote of five trustees to do so. What I did not see reported by the Mayor is the actual estimated cost of just keeping the building open once it is moved by Tritec. Certainly that is an important piece of information. Would the cost to keep it open range in the thousands, hundred of thousands, or a million dollars as the Mayor hints? Hopefully when the Board meets next Tuesday the public and the Trustees, all of them, will have a better understanding of what it would cost to do right.
David Kennedy October 06, 2011 at 12:44 PM
The Library must be preserved, plain and simple. We have seen to many aspects of what was once a perfect plan disintegrate. If the library is demolished this will be the final straw tipping the community against the four corners project...too many promises have fallen to the wayside. Mr. Bogack is accurate to highlight the financial obstacles and realities, but Ms. Salvatore is also dead on pointing to a 1 million dollar loan Tritec recieved to move the structure. What will happen to that funding if it is demolished is an excellent question we have not heard anyone address. I think discussions regarding renovations and use are premature at this point. Let's just move it and work on that on a later date. (This certainly seems to be the village's position when dealing with the parking issues the New Village project will create.) Fact is the building has stood quite nicely unused and unmaintained. While some maintence will be required to keep the structure sound after the move, it will be a small price to pay to save one of the few historic structures we have left. Save it first and I'm sure, in time, we will find a use and funding for it in the future.
John Bogack October 06, 2011 at 01:36 PM
I agree with Mr. Kennedy. Unless the building is collapsing time should be spent on figuring out a solution. It has crossed my mind that one result of all this might be to reallocate the one million dollars Tritec would save if the building was demolished and not moved for use to build tiered parking in the village. But the building seems worth more than some parking spaces. It could be the center piece and capital building for the arts movement the village has been nuturing now for years. An arts museum, call it what you will, would put the village on the map big time. Again the issue would be of course money and the will to do so.
J October 06, 2011 at 01:36 PM
With our rather high taxes, and our current building boom, there is no reason why the developers of all of our brand-new buildings (condos, co-ops, apartments) cannot be charged a small tax on each unit....this would create a fund to restore the old library and let it stay where it is, as a community center for the "New Village" and a good-faith effort of Tri-tec to show the Village of Patchogue that it is not here simply to make a quick profit and flee. We love the old library, and it was built for a purpose. I can't be sure that all the new buildings, with their incredible prices, will have an equally important purpose.
J October 06, 2011 at 02:01 PM
There was never any basis for the Halcyon Hotel to be turned into a senior citizens' center, or a recreation center. It is too far away from the center of the village, and entails a long ride for those citizens who live north of Main Street. The reality of the plan to close the Halcyon had to do with getting rid of the boarders who lived there. Nevertheless, when a true center is offered (Carnegie Library, old Town Hall), we are unable, though our taxes are quite high, to develop those viable properties, We have recently turned over the former Four Sisters Community Center on South Ocean Avene to several well-connected lawyers. The pool property on Maiden Lane was offered as a place for a senior citizen's center. It was not a good idea, since the pool is one of the "treasures" of the Village. Stronger voices kept the property open, and it continues to offer summer recreation to our villagers. Other treasures...the Carnegie Library, the old Brookhaven Town Hall. We're a small village, but we are becoming a VERY populated area. People will want services. Destroying or neglecting our standing properties is no longer a viable option. Let the Village Trustees keep an open mind, and remember just what made us great in the "olden days"...it wasn't new condos and co-ops and apartments, after all, it was a real sense of community. T
John Bogack October 06, 2011 at 02:22 PM
J has a got some good ideas here. I have to say I am astounded at the cost of repairing the Halcyon Hotel. I have been down where is it located and it is a good spot actually since it is located near Shorefront Park and the surrounding atheletic fields. I sure hope that the million dollars to fix it up was worth it though. Does anyone know exactly what that money was used for? Since the mayor says that project gives us clues about the potential library repair just what clues does the history of that repair have to offer us now I think would be good to know.
TJB October 06, 2011 at 03:08 PM
It is my understanding the old Halcyon Manor is going to be utilized in a host of different ways. It will be the home for Parks & Recreation, which will include a senior center, etc., and it's going to be the headquarters for the Code Enforcement. When the building was an adult home, it was in serious disrepair and in simpler terms, disgusting, on the inside. For a building of that size, basically gutting it and starting over from scratch to clean up years of neglect, plus bringing it up to today's code, I'm sure the milllion dollar figure that is being thrown around is accurate. As far as the Library it's my feeling that, if there's no long term plan for this building, why waste Tritec's time in moving it and the taxpayers money in maintaining it? And so far I have heard not one idea of what will be done with this building after it's moved. I can't foresee taxpayers being happy about footing the bill for an empty building. No matter how historic it is. If it in fact does get moved, why not look for a private investor with a plan to come in and pick up the cost of renovating and maintaining it? Why should the Village have to fund every good idea that comes down the pike?
TJB October 06, 2011 at 03:33 PM
Also, what I haven't heard discussed at all, is the amount of parking this building is going to eat up, if it is in fact moved. The original plan was to move it directly across the street from where it now sits. Then Lake St & Jennings Ave. was brought up. Neither of these ideas is feasible. Parking for the Fire Department volunteers is scant now as it is. And taking away from them will only make responding to alarms for them more difficult. A volunteer has to park his/her car first before they can drive or board a piece of apparatus. The longer it takes to do this, the longer it takes to respond to and arrive at where they are needed. The residents of 5 Lake Street also use this lot, as well as patrons of restaurants that are in the area. Now add in the re-opening of the apartment building at 3 Lake Street (as is rumored to happen) and then the placement of the library on this lot, and if the library building is actually used for something that requires even more parking, it becomes quite obvious how the parking will all but disappear. Or more accurately, where do you park everything?
David Kennedy October 06, 2011 at 04:20 PM
TJB, I respect your opinion, some people value past history, while others believe the past should not hinder future progress. I admit I am one who wants to treasure our past. Evenmore, Patchogue is a community that as lost most of its many historic structures over the years in the name of progress. The Library is a rare jewel. It is important we hold on to something that remindes the future of our rich history. That alone is enough for me, and I maintain that in time a use for the building will come (in this case ..."if we save it, they will come.") As for parking, no doubt that is a concern, but saving the library pales in comparison to the parking issues that will be created by the New Village project...certainly the minimal parking spots lost by saving the library will not solve that problem. Saving the Library was a major selling point when Tritec proposed there plan at the onset, yet, like the hotel and the owner occupied residental aspects, this is something else that now seems about to be pushed aside. When do we say to Tritec "enough's enough?" I, for one, am willing to organize a Save the Carnegie Library campaign. I know I am not alone.
TJB October 06, 2011 at 04:45 PM
I respect your opinion as well, however, I disagree with you whole heartedly. No building, especially one where there is no future vision for other than to sit empty for who knows how long, is more important than giving our fire deparment the room it needs to operate efficiently. And I think you're misunderstanding who is saying the library may not be saved. According to the article, the Village is saying this, not Tritec. Tritec is "following the village's lead" as stated. The Village is realizing after renovating the Halcyon Manor, they can't afford to foot the bill for another major renovation of a very old building that is sorely in need of it. If they found another place to put it and found private dollars to come up with an idea of what to use it for, and then fund this idea, I would be all for it. But right now, it doesn't seem like a prudent or feasible idea at all.
John Bogack October 06, 2011 at 04:48 PM
Well Mr. Kennedy after reading today's advance I see that the Mayor has pretty much made his position clear: no money...good bye old friend. Time to form that committee and see if there is a chance to come up with viable ideas and funding streams that are real that can save the library for the future. Time to start it up: like now.
David Kennedy October 06, 2011 at 05:09 PM
Thanks for the info, Mr Bogack, did not see the Advance yet. I will get that today...I am disappointed since the Mayor had been saying saving the Library was a priority. Ok people...Save the Carnegie Library Campaign starts today...who's with me...reach me at my email dmk11772@yahoo.com
Ann Salvatore October 06, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Tritec says it is "following the Village's lead" on this topic. What they mean is they are following the Mayor's lead. He has already decided that the library should be demolished even as Trustee Crean is working to find a viable location for it. Why go through such a charade? Tritec also gave the Village an access agreement that is so onerous it makes it almost impossible for the engineers to reenter the building. Let's call a spade a spade. It's quite obvious that Tritec and the Mayor would like to use the $1 million grant from the Empire State Development agency for alternative purposes. What those are remain to be seen.
M. Campanella October 06, 2011 at 10:25 PM
Is there any chance the Carnegie Library can be preserved under Historical Preservation?
Michael Sorrentino (Editor) October 06, 2011 at 10:28 PM
M. Campanella: I asked Pontieri about that in my interview. It will still cost Village tax money to keep it preserved since it will require hook-ups to utilities regardless.
John Bogack October 06, 2011 at 11:39 PM
Once again specifics, or really good estimates, are going to be critical facts. For example just what are those utility costs? The Mayor has promised a public hearing on this matter which is good. That means by the time that meeting is held some information, now being guessed about, should be more visible. I think the Mayor would like to keep that Library open but I also think he thinks it might be just too expensive to do so. We are all going to need a lot more facts before any of us really know what is really possible. Private lobbying to create options can only help so I am going to join any committee to keep the Library alive and I urge others to follow Mr. Kennedy's lead and get behind him to save the library while there is still time to do so.
Kathy Reilly-Berman October 07, 2011 at 01:23 AM
How very sad to think that the Village is going to let this building be demolished? I have lived in and around the Patchogue for most of my life. I so remember going to this library as a child and getting my first library card. What a shame that another piece of the countries history and Patchogue will be thrown to the wayside? There has to be a better way to preserve our history and historic places.
mary michaels October 07, 2011 at 01:23 AM
My, my Mr. Bogack you are one clever son of a gun. I always knew you were one of the sharper knives in the drawer. This is really about the money, isn’t it? I have a hunch that those developers want to take those one million smackeroos to stuff in their fat pockets. The state should snatch that grant right out of their grubby old hands! They must think we are a bunch of horses' petoots!
Scott B. October 07, 2011 at 03:00 AM
instead of paying for the utilities to be hooked up to an empty building, why doesnt the village find a use for it? They are so interested in drawing visitors to the village, how about a visitors center??? They can even have a gift shop to sell Patchogue branded items. Or use it for "official use" Im sure they could put one of the village services in it.
Jonn Mulry October 07, 2011 at 01:47 PM
I lived in Patchogue from 67 to 70 ,grad of Patchogue High, still interested in what goes on there. I hope the gem can be saved. there is another Carnegie library, this one next to the Basilica of StS Peter and Paul in Chattanooga (where I live). It is being used for offices by North American Royalities, and was built the same time as the one i Patchogue. Best of luck to you who want to save the one there. Jonn Mulry
Patchogue October 07, 2011 at 11:21 PM
The Tritec project has turned out completely opposite of what was represented. If they were served a lawsuit, the records are there. Sounds like plenty material mispresentations and material omissions to the public.
cynthia ramirez October 08, 2011 at 05:48 AM
Do Campbell and Olga know about this building? I think it would be wonderful if it could be used for their cinema? The architecture of the building would work I think. I believe they are renting the artspace area now but if the Carnegie library were moved maybe they could rent it or do something with it. Just a suggestion. I hope it can be salvaged and maintained. I sure would hate to see it squashed. After all it was a gift.
cynthia ramirez October 08, 2011 at 05:49 AM
i like that suggestion too.
cynthia ramirez October 08, 2011 at 05:58 AM
Why doesn't anyone have one of those fancy $250 plate fund raiser's to save and preserve the building. Instead of the money going to a campaign have it go for the building. If a candidate can gather millions for the run for an office why can't they raise the money to save the building. Please Mr Mayor save the Library.
Dan Ziegler October 08, 2011 at 12:10 PM
What a shame... If a suitable location can be found I and several other Long Island investor groups could certainly find a worthy, high-end, respectable and viable commercial use for such a wonderful building. Think outside the box Patchogue – Historical centers, Senior Center, Visitor centers do not generate sufficient revenue for long term survival of a building such as this. A Restaurant, Club or other sustainable commercial activity that can maintain the integrity of this architectural gem as well as breathe new life into a re-purposed building is what is truly needed. With the current mindset of Tritec and the Mayor, I doubt any of this will come to fruition. Been there, Done that! Find me a zoned location that can accommodate parking for a food-service operation and I’ll bring you a buyer in 30 days. Nothing has changed in my plans for this building since 2005. Only the players, not the plan. If only the W-Hotel was built, what a glorious site we would have had! I have a rather large historical whitepaper on this building as well as full business plan if anyone finds her a home. Let me know...
Jack October 08, 2011 at 02:59 PM
Patchogue does have a historical society. The building should become part of the Historical Society, a museum dedicated to the history of our community.

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