* This article first appeared in The
Times Herald-Record on April 21, 2001. Used by permission.
Thrall Expansion in Voters Hands
By Jay Stapelton
The Times Herald-Record
An agreement that no new library facilities outside the city will be
built for at least five years brought support from City Hall yesterday.
Mayor Joseph DeStefano met with members of the Coalition for Wallkill
Library Services and County Legislator Jeff Berkman to discuss
his concerns about the Thrall Library District expansion proposal, which
will go before voters Tuesday.
DeStefano, who supports the concept of expanding the district to include
unserved parts of the Town of Wallkill, had concerns that increased
tax revenues ¯ more than $400,000 ¯ would be spent to build satellite
library facilities outside the city. "I'm satisfied," DeStefano said
after the meeting. "I would strongly urge people to support it."
Supporters of the proposed expansion point to tax cuts of at least 3
to 4 percent for library service for Middletown School District taxpayers
and service for unserved portions of the Town of Wallkill as reason
enough to vote for expanding the district.
Library service was lost for 12,000 Wallkill residents after a contract
between the town and the library ran out last year. Since then, Berkman,
Assemblyman Jacob Gunther (D-C-Forestburgh), the grass-roots coalition
and others have lobbied to get library services restored.
On Tuesday, the final decision will be put to voters in the Middletown
School District and those living in the Pine Bush, Minisink and Valley
Central school districts in Wallkill.
A sparsely attended but locally televised meeting at Wallkill Town Hall
on Thursday night culminated several weeks of informational meetings
intended to educate voters on the creation of a new library district.
A panel of seven candidates running for positions on the proposed new
library board fielded questions on how money will be spent and service
provided if the new district is approved. If the expansion doesn't happen,
rates for service may go up for those in the current district.
Berkman said it is important to reach a partnership between the
Middletown School District and those in Wallkill that don't have a home
"We can work together," Berkman said, "to provide library services
at a reduced tax rate for Middletown School District residents."