Dissension lingers over Edgartown library project

The Edgartown library design committee agreed to explore whether a library staffer could be assigned to work for the design committee as part of his duties as a town employee. Reference librarian Nis Kildegaard worked previously for the committee as a paid consultant on his own time.

The design committee addressed the issue at a Wednesday morning meeting, after selectmen and the town administrator raised objections to the working arrangement, at the selectmen’s meeting on January 7.

The design committee is moving forward with a grant application to partially finance a new library project on the site of the old Edgartown School.

A subcommittee headed by design committee member Chris Scott wanted to continue using Mr. Kildegaard’s skill at creating visual materials and his knowledge of the new library project. The subcommittee wants him to help create presentations the committee can use to advocate for the library project during appearances before local groups.

Library director Felicia Cheney agreed to discuss the request and the hours required, and report to the design committee. According to Mr. Scott, she reported to the committee yesterday afternoon and assured the members that she could shift Mr. Kildegaard’s workload so that he has time to work on the library design committee’s presentations and visual materials.

Mr. Kildegaard is a regular columnist for The Martha’s Vineyard Times and occasionally a freelance contributor of news and feature articles.

Also at the Wednesday meeting, library foundation publicist Danielle Pendergraft offered her services to create the visual presentations at no charge. She said she made the offer as an Edgartown resident and parent, not as the foundation’s public relations consultant.

Mr. Scott thanked Ms. Pendergraft and raised the possibility of collaboration with Mr. Kildegaard.

Library trustee chairman Patricia Rose pressed the issue. “We have a professional who has offered services gratis,” Ms. Rose said, “so why are we fishing around in areas that may have problems? I just don’t understand why you wouldn’t take advantage of it.”

The library foundation has clashed often with the design committee and selectmen over the design and location of the library expansion, as well as fundraising for the project.

Funding issues

Mr. Scott and design committee member Mort Fearey asked library foundation treasurer Janet Aldeborgh whether the foundation might fund the cost of design and printing of visual material and models, which they estimated at less than $5,000.

“Couldn’t this be a wonderful thing for the foundation to pay for, to show their support?” Mr. Fearey asked.

Ms. Aldeborgh agreed to poll the foundation members within a few days to determine if they could fund the production of visual presentations.

The fundraising issue remains a touchy subject between the foundation and the design committee.

Ms. Aldeborgh told the committee that the foundation sent a letter on Tuesday, February 15, to people who contributed to the library capital campaign for a previous design at the current North Water Street location. She said the letter asked whether donors want their previous contributions and pledges used for the new project at the school site, with a deadline of March 15 to respond.

“When that information comes back, the foundation can make a more realistic decision about how we can help,” Ms. Aldeborgh said. “They are unrestricted funds, but they are donated by people who have pledged or given large amounts.” She said the foundation is not bound by the donor’s wishes, but would like to know how they want their donations used.

Mr. Scott said the clock is ticking on the fundraising issue.

“The grant was submitted a month ago,” Mr. Scott said. “Verbal support is great. With regard to the foundation, we have yet to hear the financial support is there.”

That prompted a sharp reply from Ms. Aldeborgh.

“We have had bad press,” she said. “I’m not going to be fiscally irresponsible no matter how much pressure you put on me. I’m not going to do it until I’ve heard from my board members.”

Parking space, green space

The design committee discussed public reaction to the new library plans.

“This has been a very, very, well-received design almost in its entirety,” Mr. Scott said. The “almost,” he referred to is the design for parking and a loading area to the rear of the planned building, which would eliminate much of the present green space. Administrators and students at the Edgartown School want to preserve the open area, often used for informal school activity.

The committee agreed to ask its architect and its project manager to work on a minor design change that would reduce the number of parking spaces by four and reconfigure the loading area.

“We have way more parking than we need,” Mr. Scott said. “I asked Rick (Pomroy, project manager) if that in any way imperiled the grant application. He was very confident it would not.”