Hillsdale voters show strong support for library purchase

HILLSDALE–Town voters have approved a ballot measure authorizing the town to purchase the Hillsdale library building on Route 23 in the hamlet. The library vote was the only item on the ballot in a special election last week.

The vote was 266 to 112.

The town can now proceed with further evaluations of the building before concluding the $245,000 purchase of the brick structure from The Roeliff Jansen Community Library, which is building a new library south of the hamlet on Route 22.

The Town Board has said the money for the purchase and renovations and upgrades to the 1925 library will be paid for by funds the town already has, so the move from the current town hall will not have an impact on taxpayers.

Town Supervisor Art Baer (R) said this week that the library hopes to decamp to its new home in April 2010. Based on that schedule and the work the town expects to do to remodel the library as a town hall, Mr. Baer said town government offices could move into their new home in by the end of 2010.

As a first step toward modifying the old library, Mr. Baer expects the board will issue a request for proposals from architectural firms that can draw up interior design options for town offices, a meeting space and the court. He said once a design firm is chosen, representatives of the company will meet with town department heads and the public to asses town needs and ideas. That process will lead to a series of designs, with the Town Board choosing the final layout of the building.

Mr. Baer was happy with the outcome of the vote last Friday, August 28, which drew a relatively large turnout despite rainy weather. “It confirms and supports the decision by the board to move ahead with this project,” said Mr. Baer. He also said the board “did a lot of communication” with voters, especially phone calls, in advance of the vote, drumming up support for the measure.

Ned Schneier, president of the library board, had said prior to the vote that the money from the sale of the old library would play a crucial part in keeping construction on schedule for next year’s move. The overall anticipated cost of the new library, a green building, is just under $3 million. The library is chartered by the state to serve the towns of Hillsdale, Copake and Ancram.

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