Snyder's Sandwich: No New Library For You

Mark SnyderGENE M. MARCHAND/ENTERPRISE - Mark Snyder

The Sandwich Board of Selectmen, in executive session, took the three acres in the Golden Triangle, which were already voted to be given for the new Sandwich Library in 2010, away from the library on February 13.

The trustees of the Sandwich Public Library—which was number two on the list for a state grant—were shocked by the development. If the BOS doesn’t change their minds (and they won’t since it was a unanimous vote), Sandwich will be removed from consideration, and the Stoughton Public Library’s $14 million renovation project would move closer to the top spot.

Selectman Frank Pannorfi, who made the motion to retract the three acres from the library, told Snyder’s Sandwich, “The selectmen made a mistake giving the three acres to the library in 2010. This project is not a priority of the board, and it would require an additional 35 employees to staff both libraries. They had promised not to close the Main Street branch if a new library were built. In addition, this whole deal was tied in with the South Sandwich Village project. Now that the retail-residential development is off the table, we may need those three acres to help interest another potential developer. That could be an important component of a new proposal.”

Selectmen chairman Jim Pierce added, “Mr. Pannorfi moved that we rescind the availability of three acres for a library as part of this (and any other future) RFP. Mr. Kennan seconded. The vote was unanimous. Further, in the context of the discussion, the rationale was removing any encumbrances which might discourage responses to a future RFP.”

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Library director Joanne Lamothe said she was disappointed at what happened. She also noted that the library has only 17 employees, and the new library has been designed with wide open spaces to require fewer employees.

But, the trustees of the library, who had borrowed $50,000 from the Friends of Sandwich Library to cover early costs for the new library, were quite angered at what took place in the selectmen’s executive session.      

Trustee Jann Czarnetzki said, “We were an integral part of the whole process with the Golden Triangle 20 years ago. We’re not anymore. This comes with tremendous regret and surprise. There was no hint it was coming. I’m flabbergasted at their vote. The selectmen never backed us. The town did.”

Mark Wiklund, vice chairman of the trustees, noted, “We understood it was an uphill effort. There were challenges ahead. It is excruciatingly clear if the land were taken away, that decision would put the project to bed. This entire effort on our part to get a new library was done in the open. Their decision was done in executive session with no input from the public. It’s a loss of a $50,000 investment. There was no guarantee. But, what we did was in the town’s best interest. The decision to rescind the land was disrespectful to all the previous work. But, there will still be a new library in the next 100 years.”

Trustee Jeanie Vander Pyl added, “It’s almost like a violation of the public trust. The people don’t matter.” And, trustee Alice Baker concluded, “Doing this behind closed doors was obscene. Where’s the accountability?”

Readers who are not happy about the selectmen’s decision should contact all five selectmen and let them know what you think. Once the Town of Sandwich is officially removed from the grant process, they’ll have to start again and wait years until the next round of funding becomes available. For readers in this town, now is the time.

  

RUMBLINGS AROUND TOWN

FASHION FRENZY: Third Annual Fundraiser tomorrow, March 1, from 9 AM to 3 PM at the Unitarian Church of Barnstable, 3330 Main Street on Route 6A. Gently used, smart-looking clothing available at bargain prices. Free admission. Proceeds will benefit the Unitarian Church of Barnstable.

SNOWDROP TEA: Tour landscaped grounds featuring one of the largest and most extensive collections of snowdrops in the United States. Enjoy tea and delicious homemade desserts served in historic Sandwich Village on Wednesday, March 19, and Thursday, March 20, from 2 to 4 PM. Cost is $25. All proceeds of the event will benefit the Shirley G. Cross Wildflower Garden at Green Briar Nature Center. For reservations, call 508-888-6870.

CONGRATULATIONS ARE IN ORDER! Sandwich town manager George Dunham said Tuesday, “We are very pleased to report that the town’s credit rating has been upgraded to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s.” Job well done!

Mark Snyder, who has written more than 1,880 articles in newspapers and magazines, and published three books, is the CEO of PMPNetwork.com, the Internet’s entertainment superstation. Have a story idea? He can be reached by e-mail at snyderssandwich@aol.com, on Facebook (Snyder’s Stoughton), and on Twitter (MediaMan2009). Write him via snail mail at Box 639, East Sandwich.        

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