GOLD COAST LIBRARY SIGNS CONTRACT WITH HALM TO PURCHASE 5.3 ACRE GLEN HEAD PROPERTY FOR $5.7 MILLION; ARCHITECT PRESENTS POSSIBLE DESIGN CONCEPTS
July 1, 2015 -- At a Special Meeting held at the library annex on Wednesday evening, the Gold Coast Public Library Board of Trustees announced that after several months of negotiations it had entered into a contract with the owner of Halm Industries of Glen Head to purchase the company's 5.3 acre property on Glen Head Road for $5.7 million. The purchase is contingent upon the outcome of a bond referendum to be held some time in the next few months. At that time, if voters residing in the library district approve, then the Library Board, on behalf of the community, will proceed to obtain bond financing for both the cost of the property and of a new building. A date for the vote has not yet been set. If the proposition does not pass, Board President Nancy Benchimol said Wednesday night, that because of the contract's contingency clause, the Library would not lose its deposit.
Citing "community feedback about the need for more space," The library board had announced in a letter to the community back in December that it had begun negotiations with the owner of Halm to acquire the property. “There’s no denying that the demand for library programs and services exceeds our capacity at our present space," said Board President Nancy Benchimol. "The public created the Gold Coast Public Library in 2001. We moved into our building in 2005. A decade later, the public will determine our next steps.”
Since then, the Library held community input sessions in April at which residents were given the opportunity to offer their thoughts on what they would like to see in a new library.
The purpose of Wednesday's public special meeting was to allow architect Russell Davidson, president of KD&G Architects, who has been hired as a consultant on the prospective project, to present to the board potential design concepts for a new library. The concepts were based on feedback offered by dozens of residents who attended two community input sessions this past spring. (see April 26 article to right).
Library Director Mike Morea said at that time that the process the library and the community are following allows residents to have a better idea of what they could potentially get for the cost.
Mr. Davidson explained on Wednesday night that the concepts he was presenting was "the very beginning of the process" and that he was offering a "a preliminary group of options" for the board to consider, and that would be put before residents at community charrettes to be held in early September.
At this point in the process, he advised, "we want to make this about functionality, not aesthetics - to consider what spaces we need to best serve our community's needs." There will be plenty of time to discuss aesthetics later in the process, he explained.
Mr. Davidson offered two basic concepts. Each, as presented, would create about 24,000 square feet of space, but he said that each design could be shrunk to about 20,000 square feet. Presently, the library on Railroad Avenue, including its annex, has an area of 6150 square feet.
Mr. Davidson's first concept was of a building that has three distinct sections - a center commons area with similar large entrances at both the front (on Glen Head Road) and the rear; a "pavillion" on the right (eastern) side of the building that included the library's collections and reading areas - divided into adult, teens, and children's sections; and a western pavillion with community, program, and conference rooms that could accommodate both large gatherings as well as smaller meetings such as classes, programs and book clubs. The largest of the community rooms would be able to accommodate retractable sloped seating that could be easily rolled out for films, performances and lectures. With regard to the parking and traffic flow, this concept includes a drop off/short term parking area at both the front and rear entrances with almost all of the parking located behind the building. Mr. Davidson emphasized the flexibility that this particular design offered, with spaces being combined, if necessary, or access being closed off to certain areas and rooms during particular types of events.
The second design Mr. Davidson presented was of a one and a half story structure, with a mezzanine and a round, semi-circular front facing Glen Head Road . While a small entry point would be located in the front of the building, the main entrance, parking and a drop off point would be in the rear.
During and following Mr. Davidson's presentation, the trustees and Library Director Michael Morea focused much of their discussion on what design provided the most functionality and offered the most flexibility with regard to library services, programs, and the ability to adapt to unforseen future needs. There seemed to be general agreement that the first concept - the one story design - offered the greatest flexibility and functionality, although at least a couple of trustrees liked the idea of a round front on Glen Head Road, while maintaining the general layout of the first design.
Mr. Morea said that from a director's standpoint, the one floor design was more desireable, perhaps even necessitating a smaller staff than might be required in the one and a half level design.
With perhaps a few small modifications based on feedback from the board, and an additional concept which "flips" the two pavillions in the first design, Mr. Davidson will return in September for the community charrettes at which residents will, as they did this past April, have the opportunity to weigh in and offer their thoughts and recommendations.
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The Halm Industries property on Glen Head Road, just east of the Promenade neighborhood, abuts the American Legion Hall in the front and the Community Center baseball fields in the back and includes three structures - the main structure pictured below, a residence, and a storage building.
GOLD COAST PUBLIC LIBRARY BEGINS NEGOTIATIONS TO ACQUIRE HALM INDUSTRIES PROPERTY (December 19, 2014)
MEETING OFFERS RESIDENTS GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY TO SAY WHAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO SEE IN A NEW GOLD COAST LIBRARY (April 26, 2015)
Architect Russell Davidson presents his second concept at Wednesday's meeting.