Great Neck Library OKs bid for Main Library project

Great Neck Library OKs bid for Main Library project
The Great Neck Library honored two outgoing Nominating Committee members for their commitment to the library. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

The Great Neck Library is moving along in its project to replace the Main Library Branch’s entryway after the Board of Trustees approved a construction bid Thursday night.

The board OK’d the awarding of the bid to Milcon Construction Corp., which will complete the project for $693.600. The expenses for the project will be charged to the library’s Main Building Special Services Fund.

The library had to conduct two rounds of bidding as the first round only attracted two bids and did not fulfill the library’s requirements.

In the second round of bidding, the library sent the request to about 20 companies and received four bids for the project. Milcon, the lowest bidder, was recommended to the board to be selected.

Library patron Steven Walk asked that in the future the board hold a public presentation of the bid proposals for community members to provide input and potential expertise. He cited prior construction problems and architectural issues as the reason for the need to vet the construction companies by the public.

“So I hope and pray that these people have really been vetted and that you are on top of what we will do in the commercial world,” Walk said. “Sometimes volunteers are very well-meaning, but it’s not as aggressive as it should be to protect us.”

In tandem with the Main Library project, the board also approved renting two trailer storage containers to house items stored in the garage underneath the entryway during construction.

The storage container rental is for four months – the anticipated timeline for construction – and will cost the library $1,250. The payment for these containers will be through the Main Building Special Service Fund.

Library Director Denise Corcoran said two storage containers were necessary because some items will need to be accessed during construction and two storage containers provide enough space to do so. She said there is no space inside the library to store these items.

“And if we combine those [storage containers], it’s just not going to create a good situation for people having to go in and out for either one of those,” Corcoran said.

The containers will be stored on the library’s grassy area on the lower level.

In other news, the board honored two outgoing Nominating Committee members, Marietta DiCamillo and Marianna Wohlgemuth.

Wohlgemuth took the moment of recognition to thank all of the library’s volunteers.

“We’re only doing it because we feel we will make a difference,” Wohlgemuth said. “And that’s what we feel we’ve done.”

The board presented the two ex-committee members with certificates of excellence.

DiCamillo served as chair of the committee and Wohlgemuth was the committee’s secretary before the two members’ terms ended at the conclusion of 2023.

“It’s an effort and it’s one that’s very worthwhile and I think very noble,” DiCamillo said. “You continue to plod along for the causes that you believe, all of you, and you believe in them and so you keep working towards making everything better.”

While the two women left the committee, both expressed their continued commitment to the library and advocating for its patrons.

As the board honored the nominating committee members, one member of the public expressed concerns with the committee’s practice and the library’s bylaw outlining the process of replacing a trustee.

Marty Adickman, who said he had applied for the recent trustee vacancy filled by Aliza Reicher, said he wanted clarification of the language in the board’s by-laws describing the process of filling a Board of Trustees vacancy, calling it ambiguous.

“Sometimes the only way you see the process can be made better is by going through it and asking questions when it’s complete,” Adickman said.

Adickman said his inquiry is not challenging the appointment, but rather the library’s by-laws.

The library by-laws state a vacancy must be filled 60 days after a vacancy. Adickman questioned why this happened on Jan. 11 when Panetta resigned on Oct. 17, amounting to more than 60 days. Trustee Liman Mimi Hu clarified that Panetta’s resignation was accepted by the board on Nov. 16, marking the official day of his resignation and the start of the 60-day countdown.

Adickman also said the nominating committee conducted interviews in December when he was interviewed for the position, yet some members conducting interviews had terms expiring at the end of the month.

He pointed out that the candidates selected by the committee with outgoing members were then vetted and selected by the new Board of Trustees in the new year, saying that outcomes may have been different if the process was held by a different combination of the 2023 board and committee vs. the 2024 ones.

“This raises questions as to who decides who the replacement can be and when that replacement takes effect,” Adickman said.

Vice President Kathleen Gold said the new board agreed that if there were new nominating committee members who disagreed with the prior committee’s nominations, then they would allow additional individuals to be nominated.

President Rory Lancman said the 2024 committee agreed to go forward with the four individuals nominated.

Gold said the former Board of Trustees also received the names of the nominated individuals but did not vote on implementing one of them.

Lancman said that part of the resolution of the board’s lawsuit is to have an independent lawyer review the nominating committee’s bylaws, which will be started sometime this week. The board president said that they can consider Adickman’s comments when addressing the lawyer’s review and recommendation once provided.

Lancman said the library’s Long Range Planning Committee, which Gold chairs, can also review the board’s policies further.

A member of the public asked if the nominating committee could be dissolved, which Lancman said can be done through a measure on the ballot placed there through a vote by the library’s Board of Trustees or by members of the association through a special meeting and petition.

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