Library's steel girders to rise in the spring

The foundation is now under construction: Old trees felled at the site will be given new life as library furniture

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  • The site of the library, where tree clearing is now completed. (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

“There’s a high level of excitement in the community for this project, and I can see it in the fundraising campaign. Once the door opened for donations, they came flooding in. So many in the community are supportive.”
Bill Troy, chair of the Fundraising Committee

By Geri Corey

— With construction work just beginning, the new Goshen Public Library and Historical Society is starting to take shape.

Land clearing and tree removal is completed at the Salesian property, so now foundation and footings work is underway, said Ellen-Mary O’Brien, president of the library’s Board of Trustees.

Site preparation included tree removal, which O’Brien said was done with much care and thought. She said the site engineer, as well as the Orange County arborist, examined each tree before any were removed.

“There hasn’t been a property caretaker or tree maintenance at the site for over 40 years, and what we found were sick trees, some hazardous and some too damaged to survive,” she said.

O’Brien said plans call for geo-thermal wells, which need more space.

“We’re heating and cooling the library in an environmentally friendly way,” she said.

To make way for the wells, a few older trees were sacrificed to keep younger, healthier ones.

According to law, rainwater must not be allowed to run off the property. The land has been regraded to eliminate the possibility of run-off.

“It’s clever how the engineers combine natural ‘puddles’ with different plants to prevent flooding,” O’Brien said.

Bill Troy, chair of the Fundraising Committee, echoed O'Brien's thoughts.

“A lot of thought and care went in to this before the first tree came down," he said. "An engineer and arborist examined the trees to ensure the ones we saved are healthy trees. Some trees had to be removed because they were diseased or not worth saving.”

On the upside, O’Brien said, the felled trees will be put to public use. Sal Mastropolo with Authentic Antique Lumber in Goshen examined the trees and is using eight of them to create custom handmade wooden furnishings for the library.

“No decision yet what he’s planning to make, but he does amazing work,” O’Brien said.

Prep work should be completed by Thanksgiving. The site then will “be quiet” until February or March, depending on the weather, said O’Brien. In early spring, workers will begin to erect steel girders.

“This part of construction requires time for checking and double checking the girders," said O'Brien. "They’re constructed to exacting specifications and a few months later, when the girders are fully erected, exterior work will begin.”

“There’s a high level of excitement in the community for this project, and I can see it in the fundraising campaign,” said Troy. “Once the door opened for donations, they came flooding in. So many in the community are supportive.”

The 2015 public referendum on the library project was decisive: 1,209 “yes” votes to 781 “no” votes.

Fundraising for upgradesBasic furnishings and computer systems are included in the cost of the new $9.2 million building. But to make the library the best it can be, the Goshen Library Foundation, under the auspices of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan, was formed to collect donations that would be used solely for upgrading. The Community Foundation assures complete fiduciary independence, said Troy. Here's some useful information for potential donors:

Packets explaining all aspects of the fundraising campaign are available in the library and at all Friends of the Goshen Library functions. To download forms and get more information, visit the Goshen Library Foundation site on Facebook.

Donations are collected as restricted or unrestricted funds. Unrestricted donations will be used for upgrading at the discretion of the library. Restricted donations will be used for a specific item as designated by the donor. Donations run between $100 and $50,000.

For all donations above $5,000, the donor gets an individual name plaque. For donations between $1,000 and $5,000, the donor’s name is featured on a plaque with other names. All donor names above $100 will be recorded in a book for display in the library.

A donor honor wall is planned for the lobby to include six categories based on the level of giving, ranging from $1,000 and up to $50,000.

“We’re off to a tremendous start,” said Troy, announcing the $237,230 donations to date, including two $50,000 donations — one for the local history room on the second level and one for the community meeting room on the first level. Several $25,000 and $5,000 donations have also been received.

“We’re happy with where we are at this point, we’re ready to kick-off phase II of the campaign which is sending letters with information to residents and the business community,” he said.

All donations are tax deductible. To contact the library directly email

The Goshen Chamber of Commerce is planning a presentation on the new library on Wednesday, Dec. 20, with architect Paul Mays with Butler Rowland Mays Architects in Ballston Spa, N.Y., and fundraising chair Bill Troy on board to give the presentation. Call the Chamber office at 294-7741 for reservations.

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