According to Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library officials, the library district is committed to not going back to the taxpayers to ask for permission to borrow more. Rather, the board promises to work within the framework of the original budget while seeking revenues and savings to offset the added expenses.
The original budget, $16,351,658, is currently $6.86 million over budget, according to officials, which was caused by the pandemic, inflation supply chain issues, and gross construction errors from more than 20 years ago that were not known prior to the bond vote. Construction is continuing and due to the mild winter, they were able to make good progress and make up for some of the time lost early on at the start of the pandemic.
“The vast bulk of these unexpected expenses arose from cost escalations associated with the first-of-its-kind COVID pandemic, combined with near-record levels of inflation, and unprecedented supply chain issues,” said library board president Joseph Maiorana in a statement. “Also, much of this spending has derived from unanticipated structural issues recently discovered at the main library. These structural problems were caused by long-hidden engineering errors made more than two decades ago.”
The structural issues, he explained, were discovered during the rehabilitation work. Additionally, costs, including the additional $1 million price tag for sanitary systems, were offset with a county grant.
The library, Maiorana said, has also intensified cost-saving measures being undertaken as part of the main library renovations.
“We’re working to maximize opportunities for value engineering. And we’ve cut back on some aesthetic features originally planned for the main building,” he added.
The library board is also pursuing funding from state and local governments, plus private foundations.
“The bottom line: the library’s board of trustees are committed to completing this project without going back to the taxpayers for additional borrowing,” he added. “The residents of our community deserve the best possible library services. We pledge to continue working with residents—and with partners at every level—to ensure that local families reap the maximum value from their libraries. And we pledge to not impose added tax burdens in pursuit of this goal.”
“I know with any projects there are overruns, especially with the pandemic and the fact that they couldn’t get supplies for the longest time, that made a big difference, and by the time they got it, costs were so much more,” said Mastic resident Beth Wahl, noting that she believes there isn’t going to be any additional costs to the taxpayer, and also stating that people would go “crazy” if there were. “According to them, they had been putting money aside and they can cover these overruns and there isn’t going to be a cost to the taxpayer, which is exactly what it should be.”
“I, personally, can’t wait for the library to open. It’s going to be beautiful,” she added. “You need your main library. Every time I go to the store in that same shopping center, I see more and more progress.”
Back in 2019, the Mastic-Moriches-Shirley Community Library earned the green light to move forward with a bond to finance $22.6 million in renovations, after the community voted in approval by a slim margin.
Under 100 votes were the difference, with “yes” votes totaling 1,173 and “no” votes totaling 1,078. A larger bond was defeated in February of 2018, which prompted the library to go back to the drawing board for a new plan. The voter turnout this year was 2,251 compared to 3,966 in 2018.
Library officials anticipated the project, pre-COVID, to take 12 months to draft design for the annex buildings. Then, after New York State Department of Education approval, the project was estimated to take about 12 to 16 months for construction at the Moriches and Mastic Beach annexes. They were scheduled to open in 2021. Once the annexes were completed, the main library in Shirley was to be closed for renovation for an additional 12 to 16 months. Main library construction was to be completed this year.
Anticipated costs included $502,426 over 10 years for the Mastic Beach Satellite, $5,836,880 over 30 years for the Moriches Satellite Branch, and $16,351,658 over 25 years for the main library.
In 2022, the library announced main library services were to be temporarily relocated to the Mastic Recreation Center at 15 Herkimer Street. The move was necessitated because of construction delays at the satellite branches and the need to keep the renovation of the main library, located at 407 William Floyd Parkway in Shirley, on schedule and within budget.
This past June, the new Moriches Satellite Branch at 201 Montauk Highway in Moriches, was opened, offering a range of services and benefits for community members of all ages. The Mastic Beach Satellite was also opened earlier this year, transforming the former Mastic Beach Village Hall into a new, 7,000-square-foot library.
“We are working diligently to create a 21st-century library system that embodies progress and innovation, while preserving the charm and inclusivity that our patrons cherish. This is not an extravagant endeavor, but a measured and responsible investment in our community’s future,” said library director Kerri Rosalia. “This renovation project isn’t just about today—it’s about tomorrow, next year, and many decades to come. It’s about a community that values knowledge, supports lifelong learning, and acknowledges the essential role of libraries in achieving these ideals.”
“Every dollar spent, every design drafted, and every brick laid is a testament to our collective commitment to cultivating a well-informed and forward-thinking community,” she added. “Let’s continue this journey together, knowing that the Mastics-Moriches-Shirley Community Library is not just building a state-of-the-art facility, but an enduring legacy of learning for the generations to come.”