GN Library presents renovation plan

The Great Neck Library unveiled its initial plan for the renovation of the library’s Main Branch at a public meeting Tuesday, four months ahead of a scheduled referendum to fund the project.

The $10.4 million renovation would increase community space, open the design of the library, condense book storage and update the building’s infrastructure, said Russell Davidson, president of the project’s architectural firm KG&D.

“One of the goals of the design was to make the library more user friendly,” Davidson said.

The plan - the seventh option prepared by KG&D after months of consultation with the library’s Building Advisory Committee - calls for an expanded diagonal entryway leading past reference and circulation desks to a bay window overlooking Udalls Pond, and includes a mezzanine overlooking the downstairs gallery.

“We wanted to open up the back side to the beautiful views in the rear,” said KG&D vice president Erik Kaeyer.

The plan would also feature an larger community room by the main entrance to the building - a shift that Kaeyer said could allow public access to meeting space outside of normal business hours.

“The library could be closed and the community room could be opened for meetings like this,” Kaeyer said.

The children’s and young adult sections would see expanded floor space, and the children’s books would be moved entirely downstairs. Kaeyer said the new children’s section would feature its own check-out desk and would allow parents with strollers to access the library through the lower level without having to navigate stairs or elevators.

The project’s estimated $10.4 million budget, which library board members said could potentially change in response to public input, includes $4.25 million for infrastructure, $4.1 million for renovations, nearly a half million dollars in new construction and $878,000 in contingency funding.

The planned infrastructure changes include a new roof, new, better insulated windows, a revamp of the building’s HVAC system and new lighting. Davidson termed the project a “complete renovation.”

Library board President Marietta DiCamillo said the renovation would necessitate a closure of the Main Branch, but that it would be reopened within a year of the project’s beginning. 

The renovation plan comes on the heels of a proposed $20.8 million expansion of the Main Branch, which was defeated by a landslide in an October 2011 referendum.

The 2011 expansion plan would have added 8,600 square feet to the Main Branch’s footprint and added accessibility for disabled patrons, but would have forced up to a two-year branch closure.

“We’re estimating much less of a closure,” DiCamillo said, adding that the board has formed a relocation committee to determine how best to maintain programs and services during the construction.

The board is targeting Nov. 19 for the referendum. Should voters approve funding for the project, KG&D would move into the next phases of the plan.