STOCKTON - It appears that the Cassadaga Library will again be on the agenda at the next meeting of the Stockton Town Board. That meeting is scheduled to take place on June 12 at 7 p.m. at the Stockton town offices.
The Cassadaga Branch library has been closed since August 2010. A press release that ran in the OBSERVER on May 22 of this year reported that The Mary E. Seymour Memorial Library was awarded $42,240 in construction grant funds from the $14 million in capital funds for public library construction provided in the 2011 state budget.
Trudy Coulcher, president of the Mary E. Seymour Free Library Board of Trustees, confirmed that this money was for the repair of the Cassadaga Branch Library.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
Standing Trudy Coulcher, president of the Mary E. Seymour Library Board, seated left to right councilman John Beichner and Supervisor David Wilson. Coulcher addressed the last Stockton Town Board about issues facing the library including repairs needed for the roof at the Stockton Building.
She said, "We are thrilled to get the grant. We have $25,000 from other grants and friends' donations. If we add the $40,000 pledged by the Town of Stockton, we have about $107,000 which should be enough for the whole project. It's up to the Town Board now."
Linda Mielke, Director of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System said, "I am delighted that Mary E. Seymour received this money. It was a very competitive process. Their application, with an emphasis on making this library energy efficient, won the day."
However, it is unknown if that money will go toward repairing the branch library in Cassadaga.
In August of 2011 the Town of Stockton passed a resolution to fund the repair of the library up to $40,000 over a three-year period, contingent on the receipt of this grant. There was an attempt to work on the roof before winter. In September of 2011, the board decided not to accept a bid for roof repair in the amount of $33,239 from Astry Construction, the sole bidder. The bid was higher than original estimates. In the end, the library was "mothballed" for the winter.
Recently, Town Supervisor David Wilson had the Cassadaga Library building appraised after discussing the matter with town attorney Jeffrey Passafaro and getting the board's permission. In April, Wilson revealed that he looked for but did not find a signed lease agreement between the Mary E. Seymour Board of Trustees and the Town of Stockton concerning the Cassadaga Building.
Contacted recently, Wilson said, "At the present time the town board is not sure what we want to do. The Cassadaga Library building is our building and we have no agreement (with the Library Board). We are investigating what the library (building and land) is worth. We now have an appraisal and we need somebody to put down what it's going to cost to put it back together."
He said more information would be revealed at the next board meeting.
He added that he is elected to protect the township and "Joe Homeowner." In spite of the ongoing problem of the library, Wilson said that he has heard from only two residents directly in favor of the library. Councilman Stanley Zembryski has heard from one, while the other councilmen have not reported any calls.
The Library Board is trying to change that. At a recent Senior citizens meeting a note was passed to all members saying "WE NEED YOUR HELP TO OPEN OUR CASSADAGA LIBRARY AGAIN! Voice your support by calling members of the Stockton Town Board: Dave Wilson, Brian Meder, Allen Chase, Stan Zembryski, John Beichner." The OBSERVER obtained a copy of this note from a senior citizen.
In addition there are posters hanging in the Cassadaga area. A poster hanging in the Shur-Fine in Cassadaga asked residents to put pressure on the Stockton Town Board.
Coulcher confirmed that the Library Board is behind the efforts.
When asked about Bill Astry's (a local contractor's) original estimate of $74,235, Wilson said, "Bill did that out of the goodness of his heart. It is not a formal estimate."
Since the building is owned by a municipality, any work done would have to pay prevailing wage. Astry and Wilson have both said that will impact the cost significantly. At a meeting of the Cassadaga Village Board, Astry told the trustees that he was looking at about $80,000. Without the prevailing wage requirement, he estimated that the cost would be $50,000 to $60,000.
As for volunteers doing work, Wilson said he cannot let anyone in the building to do volunteer work because of liability reasons.
The problems don't end with the Cassadaga building. Coulcher addressed the Stockton Town Board in May. Because of a lack of funding, the hours at the Mary E. Seymour Library, which were increased to serve library patrons once Cassadaga was closed, have been cut by a day because of lack of money. Both the Town of Pomfret and the Village of Cassadaga have cut funding to the library because the Cassadaga Branch is not open.
In addition this library, which also houses the Town of Stockton's offices, needs repair.
Coulcher said, "The roof on this building, I've had Angel Roofing take a look. He came back with a proposal. The proposal is reasonable I think but we can't because we don't have $10,000. I told him to go back and check and tell me what actually has to be done. He came back with a proposal of $3,700."
Wilson asked for clarification of who owns the Mary E. Seymour building. He wanted to make sure there was no obligation to pay prevailing wage. Coulcher said the building is owned by the library according to the original deed.
Coulcher said, "We at this point are begging."
Coulcher reported that the Walk Around the Lake, a fundraiser for the libraries, had a turnout of about 150 people and netted $1,000.
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