Friday, May 20, 2011

What's to Become of 400 State Street?

On Tuesday night, the library board had the first of what is promised to be a series of "listening sessions" to gather ideas about a future home for the library. Although it was expressed in different ways by most of the people who showed up for Tuesday's meeting, the only idea that board president Theresa Parsons and board members Mark Orton and Dennis Kosovac seemed to have no interest in hearing was the idea that the library should stay in the historic building that has been its home since 1959 and which the library has owned since 2005. 

Although at Tuesday's session, Parsons told Jamie Larson that he had "jumped the gun" by reporting in the Register-Star on May 11 that the library planned to leave 400 State Street, Parsons has wasted no time in trying to extricate the library from its commitment to the building. The library purchased the building from the Hudson City School District in 2005 with $300,000 in HUD grant money that had been returned when grant recipients decided they did not want to use their buildings in the manner required of a HUD-funded project. At the time of the purchase, the library entered into a mortgage agreement with the Hudson Development and Community Planning Agency (HCDPA). HCDPA put up the $300,000, and so long as the library remained in the building and used at least 51 percent of it as a library, mortgage payments would never have to be made. 

Yesterday, almost exactly six years later--enough time for all but one of the people who was on the library board in 2005 to have revolved off--Parsons appeared before the HCDPA board seeking to get out of the library's mortgage agreement. Gossips wasn't there to hear exactly what was proposed or what discussion ensued, but the outcome is known. The four members of the HCDPA board present--Mayor Rick Scalera, Common Council Majority Leader Ellen Thurston, Common Council Minority Leader Dick Goetz, and George Dejesus--voted 3 to 1 for HCDPA to take possession of the building when the library leaves and release the library from its obligation to repay the $300,000. The sole dissenting vote was cast by Thurston, who is of the opinion that the library, in its decision to abandon 400 State Street, is breaking faith with the community. 

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