STOCKTON - More members of the public than usual attended the Tuesday's meeting of the Stockton Town Board.
The meeting was held solely to decide which, if any, of the two bids for the library would be accepted by the board.
The meeting began with public comment and ended with scattered applause as the board on the motion of Councilman Bryan Meder, seconded by Councilman Stanley Zembryski voted unanimously to accept the bid of $10,000 by the Mary E. Seymour Memorial Library Association.
OBSERVER Photo by Diane R. Chodan
The Cassadaga Library located at 18 Maple Ave. was declared surplus property by the Stockton Town Board. It was offered for sale. On Tuesday during a special meeting, the Mary E. Seymour Library Association’s bid of $10,000 was accepted. This action is subject to permissive referendum.
Before Town Supervisor David Wilson read the resolution, he offered time for public comment, limiting the time to two minutes.
Cassadaga resident Joan Josephson stood up and said, "Years ago Stan Zembryski was concerned about the problem with the heating system located in the roof area. No one acted. If someone had, we probably wouldn't be at this point today."
One man asked if the public portion of the meeting could be deferred until after the board made its decision, since people would not want to comment until they knew what the board planned to do. Wilson agreed comments could be made after the resolution
Timeline of events concerning library
Aug 22, 2010: Librarian Katherine Heath notifies Supervisor David Wilson about mold in the Cassadaga Library. Library is closed.
April 15, 2011: Town of Stockton approves $10,000 for mold remediation. The intent of the board was to receive a certificate declaring the problem solved. This did not happen.
April to June 2011: The Library Association receives grants from Northern Chautauqua Community Foundation and Lenna Foundation as well as other donations.
June 2011: Katherine Way, then director of the Chautauqua-Cattaraugus Library System meets with Library Association to explain the application process for Public Library Grant Program. Wilson also attends meeting.
August 2011: Stockton Town Board commits to a match of $40,000 for the Library Association's application to the Public Library Grant Program.
September 2011: The Stockton Board rejects sole bid for roof repair, and decides to mothball the property for the winter.
April 2012: Wilson finds that there is no signed agreement concerning the Cassadaga Library with the Library Association.
May 2012: Wilson has Library building appraised.
May 2012: Library Association awarded $42,240 for repair of Cassadaga Library by Public Library Grant Program.
May 2012: Library Association president Trudy Coulcher asks the Town Board for $10,000 to repair the roof at the Stockton Library.
July 2012: Stockton Town Board declares library surplus property and seeks bids.
Aug 14, 2012: Bids on Library opened.
Aug. 28, 2012: Board accepts a bid of $10,000 from the Library Association for Cassadaga Library.
Wilson explained, "I met with the town attorney. Neither (bidder) has a certified check. One is a postal money order. I could throw them both out. The attorney said I could accept them. So I just want to say that the check is not the criterion."
Wilson then read the resolution. The document identified the property, contained a history of the board's actions, and justified the actions of the board.
A resolution adopted on July 10 established the method to offer surplus property for sale. Because the sale was subject to permissive referendum, the adoption of the resolution was posted and published on July 14.
The resolution also revealed that an appraisal of the building was done by Holt Associations. In its opinion, the building was worth $80,000. R. N. Construction's estimate for remediating the building and bringing it into compliance was $133,758.
The resolution also noted that the board received a bid that exceeded the bid of $10,000 by $29 but the town considered that "a public purpose is involved in allowing the Library Association the opportunity to attempt to keep the building open as a library in the Village of Cassadaga."
This resolution is also subject to permissive referendum. If the residents of Stockton are unhappy with awarding the library to the Library Association, they can file a petition within 30 days. In that case, a general referendum would be held to accept or reject the resolution. The petition would have to be filed with the town clerk and must contain signatures of qualified town electors numbering at least 5 percent of the total vote cast in the town for governor at the last election.
Before the final vote was taken Wilson warned the Library Board that the town would no longer pay gas, electric, carry insurance on the property, maintain the property, pick up garbage, or mow the lawn. He also said he had heard rumors that the board planned to reimburse the library the $10,000 and emphatically said this was not the case.
Concerning the Stockton library where Stockton has its town offices, Wilson pointed out problems including a floor joist that is rotting, a roof that needs to be fixed, and mold beginning to grow in the basement.
At the request of Councilman John Beichner, he gave results of his research into what other communities contribute to their libraries, comparing the contributions to population.
He asked the library board, "Do you have a game plan? Can you really do this?"
Library Board member Kathy George stood up and said, "I am insulted. ... We are not children. Treat us as mature adults. .. We need to discuss this among ourselves. Now that we know (we have the building), yes, we can do this and both libraries will be better than ever."
Councilman Allen Chase assured George that Wilson did not mean to be offensive, but rather to present the facts and the obstacles as clearly as possible.
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