(Please visit www.HPLF.org to see renderings of the Library of the future)
(As of February 10, we also have at least 400 physical signatures and the Library's petition has 170 signatures)
The Harrison Town/Village Board has until February 14th to enter into an agreement with a private foundation that has offered to make a $1 million plus donation to renovate the Downtown Library. If no agreement is signed by then, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will be lost and the Library’s future will be at risk. The question is simple: will the Town Board a) seize a unique, incredibly cost-effective opportunity to solve a major issue, or b) do nothing and forever be responsible for Harrison’s accelerating infrastructure and property value crises.
The Library has been an educational, recreational, and cultural hub for over 100 years and serves all constituencies in our town: children, teenagers, senior citizens, unemployed neighbors, small businesses, and everyone in between. In 2011, there were 198,930 total visits to the Library and 9,145 attendances at children’s programs, both increases of 20% since 2006.
Unfortunately, the Library’s future is at risk given that its 1960’s and 1980’s infrastructure is unable to service our 21st century community. This should not be a surprise, since we have massively underinvested: Harrison ranks 39 of the 42 surrounding communities that we surveyed in terms of the amount of major capital improvements made to library infrastructure in the past 15 years.
Private donors and volunteers are prepared to fix this problem by building a premier, state-of-the-art Library facility with $2.5 million of private funds. They cannot do so, however, until the town first agrees to remedy the deferred maintenance in the building, which consists of HVAC, mechanicals, fire protection, plumbing, and electrical systems. The economics of doing so are incredibly compelling because these maintenance investments will soon become nondiscretionary.
The Library Board first identified the need to modernize this facility in 2004 and absolutely nothing has been done since. Now, nine years later, it is time for the Town Council to take this necessary and obvious step, so that we, with private funds, can fix the problem. In doing so, the Town Council members will make a very clear statement that they care more about education, recreation, culture, and property values than the myth that investing no money in public infrastructure is fiscally responsible. Not acting will destroy this one-time opportunity to make Harrison better.
If you are one of the many who do care, please sign this petition.
(This petition will be circulated in hard-copy format as well. We will periodically update you with the total number of signatures)
The current state of the Library is unacceptable as it lags virtually every other community in Westchester and is incapable of servicing a 21st century community. By allowing the Library to continue to deteriorate, you are putting education, recreation, culture, and property values at risk. On the other hand, by seizing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to receive a $1 million plus gift from a private donor, you will be making an investment that will greatly enrich our community and pay dividends for decades.
I strongly urge you to do whatever is necessary to secure this private gift and, in doing so, save our Town’s Library.