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Aurora board to discuss proposal to expand town library building

Aurora Town Library officials say they hope town officials see the wisdom in a new proposal that would expand the library and make room for town and village offices, all at the existing library.

They say the plan, crafted by Library board member Al Fontanese, a retired architect, makes more sense at a cost of roughly $6.3 million than the town's proposal to hold a referendum on spending $1 million on the first phase of improvements at the town's Gleed Avenue building, which ultimately would house town offices.

The Fontanese plan calls for adding a second story to the existing library building on Main Street to house town and village government, and expanding the library's first floor by 4,800 square feet.

In the two weeks since his plan was first mentioned at a town meeting, town leaders have not given any indication of what they might do, other than to study it. The town expects to discuss the issue at its meeting tonight. The town owns the 1964 library.

"We need to look at how $6.3 million would fit into the whole financial pie," Aurora Supervisor Jolene Jeffe said, noting that the village also is considering a new fire hall and that the school budget is tight. "It boils down to the financial picture."

Formal cost figures for the Fontanese plan have not yet been completed. Fontanese said he would like a new cost estimate done on his plan to determine its feasibility. In all, his plan calls for roughly 15,000 square feet and would include a multipurpose room for meeting space.

His plan differs from an earlier shared municipal building proposal with a nearly $9 million tab that the Town Board rejected recently as too expensive.

When Fontanese first floated his idea two weeks ago, it was enough to make town leaders suddenly delay their expected approval of putting together a $1 million referendum on Gleed improvements.

"This is called the Hail Mary pass," Fontanese said.

"If the town only goes for the Gleed referendum, it does not address all the needs of Aurora," said Deborah Carr-Hoagland, library board president. "It does not address the library's needs, nor consolidate the town and village."

"We were the impetus for all of this with our dire needs. We look at this plan as our answer," she said.

Fontanese and Carr-Hoagland said the plan has been pared down and consolidates the library, town and village offices all under one roof, is a more efficient plan and would help revitalize Main Street.

If town and village offices were at the library building, the thinking is that the existing Village Hall would house police and court operations. Thirteen parking spaces would be in the rear of the library. An additional 25 to 30 spots would be needed across the street at a former brownfield site. One home to the north of the library would have to be purchased to make the plan work.

e-mail: krobinson@buffnews.com

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