Court Awards Permit for Library's Children's Wing

Doreen Niggles, the president of the East Hampton Library board, spoke Thursday about its victory in a lawsuit over East Hampton Village, which had sought to block its children's' room expansion. Dennis Fabizak, the library's director, at rear, waited his turn to speak. David E. Rattray

"Erroneous,” “arbitrary,” “capricious,” and “irrational." These words were used, more than once, in a State Supreme Court decision to describe the East Hampton Village Zoning Board of Appeals denial of a special permit and two variances to the East Hampton Library for its proposed children’s wing. In what Tom Twomey, the chairman of the library board and an attorney, called "a landmark decision for the state and for the country," the Supreme Court has granted the library permission to construct a 6,800-square-foot addition in the back of the building.

"I've been waiting for this moment for eight years," said Mr. Twomey at a press conference held at the library Thursday. The ruling by the court also includes a decision, one which was argued by the Z.B.A., that the East Hampton Library, and therefore all libraries in the state that are similarly chartered by the Board of Regents, is indeed an educational institution, and that the proposed addition is in keeping with the "Main Street Village area" character.

Mr. Twomey said that more than half of the $4 million needed to go forth with the addition has already been raised, "but our hands were tied." Now the Library's board plans on aggressive fund-raising to come up with the additional funds necessary, and will not break ground, according to Mr. Twomey, until the money is in hand.

"We want to complete the fund-raising so we can create a library the community can be proud of for years to come," he said.

"I've spent 16.8 percent of my life on this," said Doreen Niggles,the president of the East Hampton Library. "Unfortunately, an entire generation of young children lost the benefits of these improved library services over the last eight years." But focusing on the positives, she talked about the additional children's books, the handicapped access, an improved meeting room, and a young adults' homework room, which will be part of the new plan.

"I've been here for all of this," said Alexandra Giambruno, the head of children's services. "I agree with Doreen, but I am so excited this is going forward."

"This is a coup for the village," said Mr. Twomey, who thanked the residents and the library board for their years of support.

Andrew Goldstein, the chairman of the zoning board, could not be reached by phone Thursday afternoon.


I'm sure they'll build something very nice . . . and I don't have any problem with an enlarged children's wing, per se -- other than the fact that the current one is lovely, lovely as it is . . .  and I've never, ever seen it even vaguely crowded, and I visit fairly often . . . and that's a TON of money that could perhaps be better spent spreading the riches of this wonderful library to other neighborhoods (where there are more kids within walking distance). The village is more or less a child-free zone in recent years; have they noticed?

More important: It's a bad legal precident when any land donated as open space is later developed in any way. (Wasn't this donated with the intention that it be used as a park/garden?) Especially here, where donations for preserved open space are so important to all of us.