Business at the Montauk Library is booming. Annual book circulation is up 22 percent over the past five years, roughly the same percentage as the increase in the number of visitors to the building each year. In 2013, the library had 41,078 visits from members of the public. In 2018, there were almost 50,000.
Even though the current building, sitting high up on the hill just east of downtown Montauk, and offering one of the most spectacular ocean views in the village, is less than 30 years old, it is showing the wear and tear of its increase in visitors.
According to Denise DiPaolo, the library’s director, the children’s area of the library is woefully cramped, as is the library’s archive room. The windows leak, and are not hurricane rated. The septic system is not up to date. In addition, there is an acoustical issue. The library’s second floor is, essentially, an island, structurally floating over the first floor, with open areas between floors to the east, west, and south. While visually attractive, it allows sound to ricochet between floors.
Now, the library is proposing an expansion of the facility, to correct problems and to create new opportunities for education and research into Montauk’s past and present. According to DiPaolo, the first two community input sessions held at the library in recent weeks have produced positive feedback from Montauk residents for the proposed expansion, which is expected to cost nearly $7.5 million. The cost will be paid by 20-year bond. The cost to each home owner will be roughly $80 per year, based on a tax assessment on a property valued at $900,000.
The proposal calls for the first floor to be expanded to the east, with a large space dedicated as a local history and fishermen’s center. On the second floor, that expansion will serve as a green terrace.
Green is the appropriate color in more ways than one, with solar panels proposed for the western roof. Vertical access wind turbines will be added to the facility, as well.
The open island design of the second floor will be closed, with the floors extended to the walls in each direction, adding needed floor space to the adult section. That expansion will allow the library to dedicate the first floor to children’s space, while still increasing the space dedicated to adults on the second floor. It will also create a terrace facing the ocean on the second floor, offering an even greater ocean view to the library’s adult users.
The expanded first floor to the east will also have a basement, which will contain offices, and an expanded archival space. In all, 5000 additional square feet of floor space will be added to the 9000 already present. A state-of-the-art septic system will be added, as well.
The expansion bond vote will be held at the Montauk School on the same day as the school budget vote, Tuesday, May 21, from 2 to 8 PM.
Community input sessions for the proposal will be held at the library April 27 at 1 PM, May 1 at noon, May 7 at 3:30 PM, and May 15 at 10 AM.
The library is accepting donations from the public to reduce the cost of the project.
If the bond is approved by the community, the project will go out to bid this fall, with construction starting in December.