During a recent Great Neck Library board meeting, tensions flared as the issue of community dissatisfaction with the closure of the Parkville library branch came to the forefront.
Library trustee Donald Panetta, who voiced the concerns of residents he heard from during the summer in the southern part of the community, said: “People down there are not happy.”
Panetta emphasized the stream of complaints he had personally received during during his outside summer activties, saying many residents were upset about the lack of alternatives. Panetta criticized the board for not taking action sooner since the problem had been known earlier and should have been solved in February, but discussions on an alternative location only began in September.
Library director Denise Corcoran attempted to address Panetta’s concerns, asserting that the library’s feedback differed from what he was hearing. This led to a heated exchange, with Panetta yelling, “I’m out there every day and I see it.”
Board President Rory Lancman intervened, urging Panetta to allow Corcoran to reply to him.
“You have to let her communicate” Lancman said.
Corcoran reassured the board and the public that a solution was in progress. She mentioned that patrons could use any library in Nassau County with their Great Neck library card without any additional costs. Addressing the possibility of storefront options, Corcoran noted that despite their efforts, no suitable spaces were available for rent.
Panetta continued to express his concerns, citing Shelter Rock Library’s successful relocation during its renovation. However, Corcoran pointed out that Shelter Rock is a stand-alone library, making it an unequal comparison.
“It’s not because we didn’t look for a space, Don — we did,” Corcoran said.
“I’m telling you there is a lot of resentment down there, a lot,” Panetta replied.
Treasurer Liman Mini Hu countered Panetta’s claims, stating that she had not heard similar complaints from the community. Board Vice President Scott Sontag said that anyone who’s in the National Library System has access to the libraries and the services of those libraries.
“That’s why we rejoined it after so many years not being in it,” Sontag said.
Corcoran said Panetta’s role as a trustee means he should explain alternatives to the patrons he encounters outside the library.