East Hampton Library Expansion: One Last Chance

A proposal by the East Hampton Library to expand their facilities needs last minute support in the form of messages to Governor Pataki by Friday to support legislation which will enable the project. The background from a letter by activist and Library supporter Michael O'Neill is below along with a sample letter to the Governor's chief of staff.

"In East Hampton, our public library, after careful survey and assessment, determined the biggest need in our community for the services they can offer, is the underserved Latino community, especially its children.

Libraries are no longer the warehouses of books where people go around whispering as if they were at church as when we were kids. New models of public libraries serve more as community centers, providing resources available to families ....

If libraries attract a large number of users by services and programs they can then assess needs of families.. They can refer the parent or child to available health services, training programs, etc. ....

The library board went to the drawing table and proposed an addition on to its present location in ...the middle of our town's village, to better able serve families, especially childrens' needs.

Village residents overwhelmingly defeated the proposed bonding referendum to pay for the
3.5 million or so needed for construction of the addition.

In letters to the newspaper it was made clear by insinuation and code that the new addition would bring in Latinos who reside mostly in the working class district of Springs outside of the village. It was argued the increased traffic would cause gridlock, that "those" folks would be walking through their fancy, quiet village neighorhood in the daylight ...

They put up big money ... to hire electoral professionals to direct their campaign and lawyers to tie up their efforts for years if they lost. The referendum was soundly and easily defeated in a special election, with its expected low turnout.

One [village woman] said "Why pay to have others baby-sit illegal children?"

Now before Gov. Pataki to sign, is a very narrow bill ushered through by our Assemblyman, Fred Thiele (R) and State Senator, Ken LaValle, that would streamline the many hurdles needed by the library to fund and build the addition. "

Supporters of the bill fear that the Republican Mayor of East Hampton is using his influence in Albany to persuade the Governor not to sign the bill.

A bill on Gov. Pataki's desk would permit all the libraries in Suffolk to go around restrictive, gridlock zoning hurdles. Below is sample letter to Pataki's chief of staff who is point person on this, and might well be making the decision on this legislation. Organizational support would be especially appreciated. The deadline for signing the bill is Friday July 22.

Send a copy of your letter to Michael O'Neill at leoneill@optonline.net


Jeffrey Lovell,
Secretary to the Governor
Executive Chamber
The State Capitol
Albany, New York 12224

Senate Bill: S559/Assembly Bill: A875

Dear Mr. Lovell,

We wholeheartedly support this bill and urge the Governor to sign it. This legislation facilitates the delivery of library services to residents of the State and helps to eliminate overlapping or conflicting regulatory requirements without eliminating local zoning control. The bill streamlines
the building permit process by eliminating a special permit requirement which can result in conflicts with existing Regent's policies regarding library services. The bill guarantees that for a library to benefit from this bill, it must conform to dimensional and area requirements of the local zoning code, meet all site plan requirements, historic district requirements, and environmental SEQRA requirements at the local level. The local municipality retains zoning control of the library.

This bill balances the interest of New York State in providing library services to all of its residents, in particular to underserved people of color, especially children who do not speak English at home, and others less affluent in our society who rely heavily on local libraries for information regarding their day-to-day lives, citizenship, job training, English as a second language and literacy.

Libraries provide a constructive, positive environment where families and children, including recent immigrants, should feel welcomed and part of the community.

For these reasons, libraries have a very special place in our society. They are vital educational institutions providing all of our citizens and future citizens with the knowledge and tools they need to fully participate in and strengthening our American system of government. An informed and educated electorate is the underpinning of our democracy.

Please enact this bill.


Governor's fax:

518-486-9671 (physical copy has heft & is visible)
office: 518-486-9671