With a cloud hanging over their heads, Woodstock Library trustees have begun seeking public input on three potential models for a new 15,000-square-foot library that would cost more than $5 million.
"[It's] to show people, instead of letting them imagine the worst," Library Trustee Jill Fisher said with a laugh, while showing a Spectrum News reporter the three models submitted by architects as part of a design contest.
Fisher said the board plans to tear down the current 4,500-square-foot library, which has seen several additions in the last 50 years.
Not everyone is in love with the board's plan.
"I just can't understand why they're going in this direction," said former trustee and community organizer John Ludwig.
Ludwig said the library should be renovated, with new additions being put on the back of the building, to preserve its "Woodstock" character.
Each side has been relying on different reports and opinions to support their respective views on library improvement.
Those in Ludwig's community group point to a 2016 library master plan that found renovation would cost less that $1 million.
Fisher said the library board's consultants "have warned us that a renovation of this building would end up costing far more [than building anew] and give us less space."
Trustees are fighting for more than just their plans for a new library.
Earlier this summer, Ludwig's group successfully petitioned for a November 6th ballot question on whether to dissolve the board of trustees and its tax district.
If voters choose to dissolve the library board, trustees would be forced to give library oversight to another body, possibly the Woodstock Town Board.
"It was a real hard fight back in 1989 to get our special library district status," Fisher said, "which maintains our tax base and regular source of funding."
"It was the same issue back then," Ludwig said. "They weren't listening to the people. They believe they know better. It's fine if they know better, but it's the people who own the library."
Woodstock Town Supervisor Bill McKenna said he is not supporting either side, but he does not foresee the town immediately having the resources to continue on with the library board's plan.
"I am a big believer in renovation ... We've done it well with other buildings in town," McKenna said when reached by phone Thursday afternoon. "I can say that if the library tax district is dissolved and the town board took over, a $5 million project would be very unlikely."