Andes Library opens a new chapter

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By Matthew J. Perry
Last Saturday—a crisp but sunny second day of spring—dozens of Andes residents turned out for a celebration at the refurbished town library to enjoy music, food, socializing and, for many, a first look inside the 1840s Main Street building since construction was completed.
Trustees, librarians, architects and town officials were on hand to greet guests and offer tours.
The building had been effectively gutted, its layout reconfigured, to create more efficient space on the first floor and open up the previously unused second story for shelving, desks and an office.
“We love how it came out,” said Buffy Calvert, president of the library board of trustees. “We hope everyone else does, too.”
The rehabilitation project began three years ago, when the trustees met in what was once a cramped side room; they were intent on crafting a plan to “loosen the place up.”
The library had too many walls, insufficient space for its holdings, and no suitable community room.
In quick succession, the trustees tackled fund-raising, bids for architects and contractors, and wrote grant proposals. The services of two associates at Ashokan Architecture in Kingston, Brad Will and Stephanie Bassler, were secured two years ago. All the while, money came in from the community; eventually the town raised $100,000 for the project.
Those funds helped secure matching grants from the O’Connor Foundation and the New York State
Department of Education. The construction bid was awarded to Denison-Finn, Inc., and work began last September.
“They’re here in everything you see,” Calvert said of the contractors. “It was a dream to work with them. They started on time, and finished on time, on budget.”
The library moved across Main Street to the old mercantile building for the duration of the work.
Many of the books and materials that could not be contained in the temporary space were housed at the CitiHope building in the center of town. On Saturday, Calvert thanked many people who had helped with the two moves, as well as others who contributed time for organization or general support. She was particularly effusive in her praise of the three town librarians; Valerie Brown, Gloria Carlson and Laurie McIntosh. “You can’t imagine how flexible and hard-working they are. They handled a huge amount of work.”
Calvert also gave special thanks for the support of Supervisor Marty Donnelly, former MARK Director Joan Lawrence-Bauer, resident Tyler Gray, donor Walter Gladstone and the other members of the trustee board including Phyllis Galowitz, Judy Garrison, Linda Lederman and Michael Passafiume.
McIntosh later stepped up to acknowledge the dedication and resourcefulness of the board president herself. “Every adjective you used to describe us describes you,” she told Calvert. “This library is her baby, it’s her passion.”
The library, originally contained in two small rooms, now incorporates what had been a side apartment. The new, adjoining space will serve as a community room; the children’s room now occupies an elongated room at the back of the building. At the Saturday party, half the community room was given over to the Tremperskill Boys, a pick-up band that entertained throughout the gathering while leaving ample space for attendees to maneuver around them.
The second floor is now accessed by a stairway at the back of the building. Painted in a cool shade of green, with shelving running down the center, the room promises a quiet remove from downstairs activities. A small office occupies the sunny western corner.
The front porch of the library is also due to receive a facelift. Calvert was quick to point out that the work will be done as soon as weather permits, and that the funds for the job are being held in reserve.
Will and Bassler have drafted plans for an ambitious expansion of the building, as well as an overhaul of its parking facilities and landscaping. While there is no immediate intention—or available funds—to execute the next expansion, the board of trustees expressed satisfaction with the accomplishment, for now.
“We worked terribly hard, and dreamed big dreams,” said Calvert. “We’re still dreaming.”
In addition to detailing the interior renovation, Will and Bassler crafted ambitious plans for an extension of the building and an overhaul of its parking facilities.