Monroe Town board meeting

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:50

    Monroe-Although there were a number of issues presented during public comment, the bulk of Monday's town board meeting was spent discussing the potential merger, and move, of the Monroe Free Library and Town Hall to the Orange and Rockland (O&R) property. Resident Art Heller suggested the whole issue could be resolved by placing a referendum on the November ballot to allow the community to vote on whether they want the joint building. He also suggested, and many agreed, that the K-Mart/M&T site should be considered for the municipal building to avoid the downtown area becoming a ghost town. Town Hall is located at 11 Stage Road, while the library is located at 44 Millpond Parkway. The O&R property is off Route 208. With Councilman Peter Martin facilitating the Monday night town board meeting in the absence of Supervisor Sandy Leonard, the board was grilled about what some residents perceived as intentional deception regarding the purchase and use of the O&R property. Long-time resident Theresa Budich read a newspaper article published June 29, 1998, which indicated that the O&R land was to be used for park purposes, including a proposed pool. She agreed the library needed space, but also believed that the town misrepresented the purchase of the land and continued the deception by failing to correct the article. Attorney Kevin Dowd stated that the town could not control what was published and that residents could have found the correct information regarding the O&R property by completing a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) form at the town hall. He added that if land is designated as park land, it cannot be changed without approval from the state legislature. Residents also asked what the role of Kiryas Joel would have on the library/town hall bond, specifically whether the village would be responsible for taxes. Councilwoman Lori Currier Woods said officials from the library and Kiryas Joel are currently discussing whether the village will stay in the district. Woods added that Kiryas Joel residents are entitled to vote because the town is the sole owner of the property. Martin added that if the residents of Kiryas Joel chose to form their own library, they may be separated from the operating budget which could cause Monroe residents to experience a tax increase. A public hearing for the joint library/municipal building has been tentatively scheduled for Sept. 27. Library representatives will do a presentation, which will include the cost to the town and floor plans. The presentation also will include the ballot date which will allow for the maximum number of people to vote on the referendum. A question and answer session will follow. "The land cost comes off the table (if the O&R site is used)," said Martin. He also said that combining the two would have the least expensive impact because the town already owns the land. If approved, the library will occupy two thirds of the building and will share common areas with the town hall. If the proposition is not approved, the library would be responsible for all costs associated with purchasing another location which would come out of its budget. After the meeting, Town Clerk Judy Dise reviewed documented minutes from the June 29, 1998 town board meeting. She said the minutes did reflect that former Supervisor Mike Frerichs corrected the published article, of question, during the meeting. According to the minutes, he clarified that the land was being purchased for general town purposes.