Board of Trustees Special Meeting Minutes: Monday, May 18, 2013


7:00 PM at 300 Bridge Street, Bellow Falls

In Attendance: Jan Mitchell-Love, Hope Brisette, Laura Senes, Deborah Wright, Pat Fowler, Paige Pietrzak, and Célina Houlné. Public members in attendance: Steve Geller, Arnold Clift, Susan Warner, Edward Warner, Nancy Tusinski, Lois Smith, Ponnie Derby, Nancy Kovaleff, Joel Love, Tim Doherty, Joe Brissette, Gary Fox, and Susan Smallheer from the Rutland Herald.

1. Call to order at 7:04 PM

2. Update on renovation plans-moving forward: On Friday it was discovered that the RFPL bylaws that require a simple majority to pass a motion does not follow state law that requires a majority of the full board. Steven Ankuda, the town lawyer, recommended taking another vote on the library building closure. Pat Fowler made a motion that in the interest of serving the public, we continue services (book browsing and loans, computer services, historical research, children’s programming) in the present building until such time as the Board of Trustees have an alternative site confirmed (plans designated and building spaces committed-leased or loaned). The motion was not seconded. Deb Wright maked a motion that the RFPL, which is currently closed, remain closed until end of July 2013, or until such time as the new elevator is certified fit for use and the fire suppression system is complete. This motion seconded by Hope Brissette, with the friendly amendment to state that it is the library building, which will remain closed. Laura Senes reads a letter that she had sent to the local papers explaining the reasons for her supporting closure of the library building. This letter is included at the end of the minutes. Motion passed 5 in favor, 1 opposed.

3. Executive Session-if necessary: Laura Senes made a motion to enter executive session for personnel reasons. Seconded by Deb Wright, and passed unanimously. Enter executive session 7:25. Leave executive session at 7:31 with no action taken. There will be a special meeting of the board of trustees on Wednesday, May 22nd, 9:00 AM at 300 Bridge Street.

4. Public comment: There were several members of the public who felt it was disrespectful to leave public comment to the end of the meeting. Also, there were members of the public who complained about the short notice and timing of this meeting. Another member of the public expressed confusion with the board’s decision to close the library building, but to allow the staff to continue working in the building. A couple of members of the public thanked the board of trustees for all their work, and expressed concern with members of the public pursuing issues with the superior court and costing taxpayers money.

5. Adjourn: Deb Wright made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Paige Pietrzak, passed unanimously at 8:05 PM.

These minutes respectfully submitted by Secretary Laura Senes, May 23, 2013

To the People of Rockingham,

I am writing this letter as a Trustee of the Rockingham Library. This letter does not represent the views of the entire board. I feel a need to express some points that do not seem to be getting across to the general public. People are up in arms about the decision to close the library building in order to finish up construction, and seem not to be listening to the many reasons why the board has voted to close the library building.

Before discussing the reasons, I want to point out that the board voted to close the library building, and to find another site to provide services to the community. We do want to make sure the community has a place to go to enjoy the library services this summer. People seem aware of the fact that part of the reason to close the library is due to the lift not working, and therefore being inaccessible for some patrons. Perhaps you don’t think that is important, and perhaps some people who can’t get into the library don’t mind the inconvenience in the short term.

Another reason the board has decided to close the library is that the sprinkler system is not working, so there is no adequate fire suppression system. If the library were to remain open, we would be utilizing just the front, historic section of the library (where I should point out, there are no bathrooms). I do not believe it is safe to have patrons, potentially overcrowded, in a building undergoing major renovation, without a fire suppression system. Apparently the fire chief will let this slide because construction is in the process and this is only temporary. But do you think it is safe? Do you want your kids spending time in a construction zone that is not up to code? We have had enough difficulties during this renovation; the last thing we need is a serious disaster.

Another big issue is money. Every week we go over deadline (August 31st) will cost taxpayers an additional $10,000 per week to pay the contractors. I believe this project has the potential to be finished faster if there are no patrons in the building. If we move the library we can provide services in a safe and accessible space. Yes, it costs some money to move. Yes, it is a lot of work for our library staff. Our staff has done incredibly with the strain of the renovation, and I know moving may feel like the straw that broke the camel’s back. But part of my job as a trustee of the library is to make sure the staff is working in a safe environment. I do not believe this to be true anymore. I also believe that they are a fantastic staff that can handle the move, and then we will be able to move back into a completed, accessible and safe building.

I was not at the meeting during which the board voted to close the library building and find another site to provide services. But I do agree with the decision. Now the community can get behind the board it elected to help us find a place to provide services, or people can keep wasting our time and money. I believe if the community would support the decision of the board, and work with us to help find a solution, we can have safe facilities and be able to provide services that everyone in the community will be able to access this summer.

Thank you,

Laura Senes
Saxtons River
Trustee for the Rockingham Library