Mattituck-Laurel Library has closed off its parking lot, as it begins construction to add more spaces and a green space.
The project, which officially started May 24, is tentatively scheduled to end the first week of August. In the meantime, patrons will need to park in the neighboring church parking lot to visit the facility. The library will keep regular hours throughout the project.
The library is planning an additional 24 parking spaces on the south side of the lot and a new 3,500 square foot outdoor green space and performance area behind the building, complete with Wi Fi and charging spots. The lot entrance will also be expanded several feet and five new handicapped spaces will be created in the northeast corner.
“When we had different activities going on, [people] couldn’t find parking … people would always have to park in the church when the parking lot filled up,” said library director Jeff Walden. “So over the years, I’ve had people come in and say, ‘You know, there was never enough parking out there.’”
Mr. Walden said the library hopes to host outdoor events — such as concerts, pumpkin carving and other family-style activities — in the greenspace as weather permits throughout the year. Plans for the addition began before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“But now that COVID happened, it certainly plays into the whole thought of having an outdoor space, so it was kind of fortuitous that we thought about that ahead of time,” Mr. Walden said.
Last year, members of the Southold Town planning department suggested an archaeological dig on the site, a potential spot where the British Army may have camped during the American Revolutionary War. Mr. Walden said the town did not require an archaeological investigation, but a local volunteer — Southold resident and live sound technician Ben Fisher — has been scanning the property with a metal detector.
“He mostly turned up like bottle caps and some scrap metal, but nothing of any value at that point,” Mr. Walden said of the volunteer’s two visits to the site. “I may have him come back again throughout the process to do some more.”
Mr. Fisher said he reached out to Mr. Walden after reading an article in The Suffolk Times about the suggested dig. He explained there’s layers of ground accumulation that would make it difficult to find artifacts from the 18th century, but once the topsoil is removed at the site it should be easier to find materials buried deeper.
“If there was actually a camp there, which is what I guess is in debate … then it would be relatively easy to find stuff once they remove that,” Mr. Fisher said. “Nobody really knows until you do it.”
The project is funded by a New York State Construction Grant amounting to $219,000, money from the library’s capital reserve account and a commercial loan that was included in the library’s annual budget. There will be no increase in taxes.
The project bid was awarded to Owen Brothers Landscape Design and Development from Baiting Hollow. It will remain compliant with the town’s Dark-Sky initiative to limit light pollution.