GOLD COAST LIBRARY'S NEW BUILDING INITIATIVE ENDS WITH SELLER'S DECISION TO TERMINATE CONTRACT
November 13, 2015 -- In a posting on its website on Wednesday morning, the Gold Coast Library announced that it had been notified by the owner of the 5.4 acre Halm Industries property that he would be terminating the $5.7 million purchase contract that he had entered into with the library this past July. The sale was contingent upon community approval of a bond referendum allowing for financing of both the purchase of the property and the construction of a new library building.
The Library’s down payment of $100,000, plus interest, which was put into escrow is in the process of being returned to the Library.
“This development necessitates that the long-planned building initiative will end without a public referendum,” the Library’s post reads.
The Library Board of Trustees had announced in December 2014 that it was in negotiations to purchase the property on Glen Head Road just west of the American Legion Hall and baseball fields. A few month later, the board hired an architect who presented design proposals in July and again in September based on feedback from the Library Board and the community.
A precise figure had not yet been determined for the bond financing, but the library board had said that the total cost would range between 14 and $19 million, and be paid off over a period of 30 years with the cost to the average taxpayer being less than $100 per year.
In September's library budget vote and trustees election, residents defeated the budget that would have raised taxes by 25 cents per month for the average homeowner, while unseating two incumbent trustees, one a founder of the library in 2001, who had supported the new building initiative and electing two community members who opposed the project.
At a board meeting later that month, Libary Director Michael Morea said that the legally required SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) process had begun with phase I having been completed. On Friday, Mr. Morea told Northwordnews that while Phase II had been done, the full SEQR process had not yet concluded.
In its statement on Wednesday, the Library Board thanked “the entire community for its patience and participation over the past year,” and said that despite the public not having had the opportunity to vote on the proposal, “the feedback received through meetings, focus groups and your comments, both positive and negative, have helped the Board develop a better understanding of the needs and desires of the community.”
As for the future of Halm property, Donald Lyon, the owner of Halm, said to Northwordnews on Wednesday that he has several parties interested in the property, part of which is zoned residential and a larger section commercial/light industrial. Ideally, he explained, he would like something done with it “that would be good for the community” and believed that townhouses or an assisted living facility would be preferable to maintaining the property’s current zoning. In September, he told Northwordnews that he very much liked the idea of having a library on the property, and despite having received a $6 million bid from a developer wishing to build townhouses, opted to accept the Library’s lower offer, saying that he believed it would be "good for Glen Head."
According to the terms of the contract, if the referendum was not held by December 15, the seller could terminate the agreement. New York State law requires that the public be given 45 days notice before a referendum is held.
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