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Halperin, Belmont Near Deal On Library Renovation

Ross Halperin is the executive director of the Harrison Public Library Foundation. Photo Credit: Patrick Stapleton/File
Harrison Supervisor Ron Belmont has supported renovating the Harrison Public Library. Photo Credit: File

HARRISON, N.Y. – The Harrison Public Library Foundation is close to reaching a public/private partnership agreement with the town on the downtown library revitalization, said Ross Halperin, the foundation's executive director.

Halperin and Town Supervisor Ron Belmont discussed the matter over the weekend and, "based on those conversations, I believe that we are moving in a positive direction and that there is a real chance we can get a deal done by Feb. 14,” said Halperin, who set the mid-February deadline.

Halperin expects to receive a revised partnership proposal from the town by Wednesday, which he will review in detail with the foundation members.

In the years since the death of his father, Richard, in 2008, Halperin has made it his mission to raise funds for the library renovations, including working out the architecture and design of the future building with the library board. His father loved the library, which many, including those who work there, say is outdated.

The town, which owns the building, is being asked to take care of electrical, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, fire protection and plumbing for an estimated total of $1,096,998. Those items must be addressed before major renovations can take place to the interior and exterior of the library, Halperin said.

Renovations would include an expanded children’s area and teen center, plus 29 more computers for what Halperin said was “a truly once in a generation project.” The exterior, considered to be “ugly and uninviting,” Halperin said, would feature better use of windows to bring sunlight into the building.

The total cost would be about $3.6 million, an estimate from mid-November last year.

The Halperin Foundation was set to cover $1.1 million of the library renovation, but after months of no progress between Halperin and the Town Board, the offer could be withdrawn on Feb. 14. Halperin had set the deadline during the Nov. 14 Town Board meeting.

“In consideration of our duty to our many donors, some of whom have been waiting for years, on Feb. 14, 2013, the Halperin Foundation will withdraw its plan to donate approximately $1.1 million towards the renovation of the Library and pursue a completely different project,” Halperin wrote in an email to Town Board members. “We are considering two projects, neither of which are in Harrison or would be accessible to Harrison residents.”

Support has grown for the library renovations throughout Harrison as a petition to the Town Board to sign a public/private partnership agreement has garnered at least 780 signatures.

Halperin would like to see construction start on the library in 2014 at the latest, which he said was an important part of the discussion with the town.

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