Monday, April 28, 2008


The Carnegie Library is getting plenty of renewed attention these days. It seems to come in cycles. It was only four years ago that Assemblyman Cahill acquired funding to refurbish the former library into a tech/learning facility. Which went nowhere since there was little cooperation between the City and the school board...But not this time.

I am excited to think this may be the culmination of monies, people and the will to do something special in midtown. A renaissance if you will. The building couldn’t survive another winter without serious attention.

The library was constructed in 1904 to replace the original community library in City Hall across the street. It was among 1,600 public libraries built all over the US around the turn of the century, with money donated by Andrew Carnegie.

School Board member Jim Shaughnessy is the driving force behind the proposed renovation. He suggests tapping into school district CDBG funds to accomplish the task, but grant acceptance requires a learning component...Enter Evry Mann.

Evry Mann is the director of the Center for Creative Education in Stone Ridge and the large studio space on Thomas Street right here in Kingston where his organization's after-school programs serve more than 100 youths on a daily basis.

As noted in the Freeman: The center runs three arts education programs in Kingston, including the Percussion Orchestra of Kingston (POOK); the Energy Hip-Hop Dance Company; and after-school arts programs at Washington and Kennedy. The plan is to continue using the Thomas St studio for younger students and utilizing the renovated Carnegie Building for High School students.

The City of Kingston has included a $50K allotment from the annual CDBG funding toward the renovation of the building. There was plenty of support for the funding at the Public Hearing this past Wednesday when the funds distribution was announced.

Al Teetsel and I showed up during closing comments to witness a pleased crowd. Lowell Thing was one of the civilians from my district in attendance; from the smile on his face, he must have liked the proposal. Almost all of us Aldermen attended the numerous community development meetings this winter to hash out the final proposal. Thanks to Mike Murphy for guiding the group.

Between the state and federal sources, most of the funding will be secured, if not, there are other sources. Even with a zero tax impact, the renovation has to pass a public referendum in the fall.

I am definitely a YES vote.


Anonymous said...

This building was built to last centuries, had it been maintained. Our lesson from the 'ol Post Office has been lost on this generation of Kingston residents.

That we let this building go so far without finding a new life before now is a sad testiment to the lack of custodial duties of middle aged Kingstonians today.

Thank the heavens for a spark of concern by members of the current school board. Vote yes for me.

Anonymous said...

Transfer the builidng into private hands and this might ultimately happen. Keep the building under title to a government agency and the red tape will triple and the cost will quadruple.

4000 sqaure feet of usable space is not worth 2.5 million dollars in state ed. school construction money. State education money should be spent on education not historic preservation.

There are too many other priorities that are not being met. How about the money that could be used to close the campus? How about the money that could be used for handicapped accessibility. How about the money that could be used for security systems at our elementary schools. This project should not make the district's top ten list.

The school district is not a historical preservation agency and should not be driving this ship.