.

Citizens' Bank?

Roslyn Library could have its new digs in a defunct bank ... which was recently put up for auction.

y Board President Garrett Page usually relays glowing stats — about Abington residents’ library use — during Abington Public Affairs Committee meetings. He admitted as such last night, but used the word “flowery” instead.

Last night though, Page said he was there to support the possible acquisition of what could be a larger . Joining him were members of the Abington Library administration as well as other board members.

“To cut to the chase, an improved and larger Roslyn [Library] branch would benefit not just the library, but the entire township and indeed the entire region,” Page said.

The case for a newer, larger Roslyn branch library has been around for months. And about five days ago, the former Bank of America building, located at 1185 Easton Road, was put up for auction by Absolute Auction out of New Jersey. The piece of property, near the corner of Bradfield and Easton roads, has been on the market for about two years, but will be hitting the auction block Oct. 27.

Abington Assistant Township Manager Matt Lahaza gave an overview of the defunct bank; there was no action item on the agenda.

According to Lahaza, the 4,200-square-foot, rectangular building features a large open space in the center of the building, a tellers’ station to the right, and a room with a safe door to the rear of the building. The property has 17 parking spaces compared to the two spaces at the current Roslyn branch library.

On the downside, the safe door (see picture) would cost about $30,000 to remove (though the door and the contents in that room would have significant scrap value); part of the floor has asbestos tile under the carpet; there is mold in the basement; the building has not been tested for radon; and many of the single-pane windows would have to be replaced down the road.

The cost? It’s hard to tell. According to Lahaza, the bank rejected a $260,000 offer for the building and the building is assessed at about $500,000 through the county. The building would also need an estimated $89,000 in repairs, including mold mitigation, new carpets, paint and computer wiring.

“It would be a ‘last opportunity’ for ours at this location,” Lahaza said … “Our best projection is that the Absolute bid would be somewhere between [$260,000 and $504,000] unless bidding is extensive … however the property has been on the market for close to two years now.”

According to Lahaza, the township originally had $1.6 million in place to relocate the Roslyn Branch Library, but lost about $600,000 in county grant money. The grant expires Dec. 30 and Lahaza said, “It’s not at all likely that the county grant money can be salvaged.”

There is about $195,000 originally reserved for the moving-the-Roslyn-Library-project. Lahaza said the money is sitting in reserve in the economic development budget.

Also, the Friends of Abington Library group pledged about $200,000.

Page, prior to the presentation, cited “main branch growth” as one of the reasons for the need for a larger Roslyn branch. He said from 2000 to 2009, library usage increased by 88 percent; circulation went up by 34 percent in the same time frame. Page also said that current Roslyn branch staff work in “pretty much deplorable conditions.”

“This is a unique opportunity, commissioners, that may not come again,” Page said. “I’m a deacon at my church and in the Baptist faith there’s a song that I sang in the Swarthmore alumni choir. The beginnings lyrics were, ‘Please do not let this harvest pass,’” referring to the possible acquisition of the defunct bank.  “We’re asking you to be a part of the puzzle.”

Resident Robert Sklaroff questioned why the parcel known as The Grove Property — which is located in Roslyn, was recently acquired by the township, and is undergoing slight renovations — was not a suitable location for the Roslyn Library. When he asked Lahaza if it was possible, Lahaza simply said, “No.”

Abington Commissioner James Ring said that he had a lot of questions about a potential purchase; he and other commissioners asked for more time to look at the report.

Commissioner William Lynott said, “In terms of the actual acquisition, we really shouldn’t be discussing it here. This is a matter for executive session. It’s really not proper to be discussed here.”

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The Abington Board of Commissioners meeting will be held Oct. 13. Check back for details. 

Marc Lombardi October 06, 2011 at 01:25 PM
I think that's a fantastic location for a new library as the old one is small and in definite need of updating & relocation. It seems to me to be a no-brainer for the whole community to get behind this project and make it happen.
Sharman October 06, 2011 at 02:39 PM
I too agree this would be a great location, not only because the current library is terribly inadequate; but also because the area around the old bank could use the sprucing up to increase foot traffic to the corridor. If we are going increase the appeal in the Roslyn "business district", this would be a positive start.
dana lightman October 06, 2011 at 03:25 PM
As a 20 year resident of Roslyn and an avid user of the Roslyn Branch of the library, I am thrilled to read about another opportunity for the township to acquire property to support the growth of the community. The need for a new facility to house the Roslyn library is obvious, not only for the staff who must work in less than desirable conditions, but the the children and adults who regularly patron the library. We deserve a building that is uplifting and inviting. I hope the commissioners can come together to make this work. Abington is indeed one of the best communities around. Now let's have a libary that reflects this!
Mary P. Gill October 06, 2011 at 06:54 PM
As a resident of the community and a regular Roslyn library patron, I have voiced my interest in the former Abington Library building, turned bank building, which has been standing empty, as the ideal relocation for the Roslyn library. Is no one else saddened by all the grant money that was lost while the township pursued the building across the street which was not even available for purchase? Let's move as quickly as possible to make the acquisition of this building happen. Roslyn branch and the main branch fill a void in Abington Township School District's preschool preparedness by providing story hours and other programs to promote, along with parents and caregivers, a love of reading and familiarity with a library setting. If you, as I did, when my grandson was preparing to enter kindergarten, contact the Abington School District about reading programs in the elementary schools to help prepare children for school and make them comfortable in a new environment, the spokesperson for the school district refers you to the library programs. Roslyn Library fills a real need in our community, and I think this would be an ideal location. Let' make it happen.
Victor B. Krievins October 06, 2011 at 08:02 PM
Unfortunately, many people are missing the true point on this issue. I inspected the Bank Building for a Potential client yesterday and found that this building has a severe moisture and mold problem. It is in need of a new roof. The basement has been power washed to conceal the moisture problem which is now coming through the replaced dry wall. The estimated cost to renovate thie building up to code is $ 250,000.000. The electrical panel must be relocated as it is on a moisture saturated wall. The inside walls may not be demolished as they support the building. In addition, Mrs. Patane, the owner of 1180 Easton Road will need to be paid approximately $ 225,000.00 for her legal expenses for the failed attempt at taking her building. The Township is also facing a deficit for 2012 of Two Million dollars. Where does everyone think the money will come from for this new project. Would you like to see township employees laid off or drastic cuts in our Police Department or better yet be faced with a hefty tax increase? I did not think so. The library should be moved to a far more favorable site with little work needed and perhaps already owned by Abington Township. I do support the Library but not when it will cost the tax payers dearly.
Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. October 06, 2011 at 08:28 PM
I concur with Mr. Krievins, and elaboration is in-order. First, I spoke with Mr. Lahaza after the meeting, and the reason he said "no" [unexplained during the meeting] was that inadequate space existed on the first floor to hold books. He also said that a back-room could be designated as a reading-room for an existing program, and he noted that access to the second floor would be difficult due to ADA-limitations. So, to problem-solve, I suggested that books could be stored on the second floor, with a limited variety on the first floor; the Historical Commission could be invited to use The Little Meeting House [on Jenkintown Road], perhaps also to be supplied with a few books. The net-result--at minimal cost--would be an expansion of the community-centers [which residents, along with businesses, could use for meetings...as per Ms. Lehmann's suggestion] and reading-stimulus. Omitted from this piece was a probe of $-issues. With the "Friends" able to provide $195K, and the renovations of the bank-building realistically consuming these funds, there is NOTHING LEFT for a bid; the sequestered $200K should be used to pay-off the Patanes [illustrative of the faulty decision to seek Eminent Domain in the first place]. I take pride in ensuring that no County/State monies will be available to supplement this effort, which remains unjustified by any cogent/documented needs-assessment. [to be continued]
Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. October 06, 2011 at 08:35 PM
[continued] The solicitor was absent, a grave disappointment when it is noted that myriad legal issues arose but were left unresolved; if he could not attend, he should have sent a substitute. This is particularly of-interest because the time-frame proposed for the New Jersey auction [@ month's end] would seemingly require some public-notice...for an expenditure that would realistically exceed 1/2 million-dollars. In addition, as Mr. Krievins noted, "The inside walls may not be demolished as they support the building." When I quoted this information last night, the library-directress exploded, claiming I shouldn't depend upon input of a friend when contradicting a member of her board [who had averred the opposite]. She then refused to talk about the issue further, claiming I should make an appointment with her to chat in her office. This is reminiscent of another event, suggestive of the need for an attitudinal readjustment from her elitist [and now stripped-naked] world: http://abington.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-what-you-cant-check-out-at-the-abington-library?ncid=following_comment In that instance, she banned an innocuous book from a local icon, Ted Taylor. This should not be framed as a personal-battle, but her ego appears to be transcendent...and its scope impedes the capacity to problem-solve. Perhaps Judge Page may be able to counsel her, prior to next week's Commissioner meeting....
Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. October 06, 2011 at 09:36 PM
It would appear that a rushed-approval next week would be illegal, as per this excerpt from the Municipalities Planning Code: http://www.planningpa.org/MPCode.pdf “Public notice,” notice published once each week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality. Such notice shall state the time and place of the hearing and the particular nature of the matter to be considered at the hearing. The first publication shall not be more than 30 days and the second publication shall not be less than seven days from the date of the hearing."
Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. October 07, 2011 at 10:35 AM
The Buzz: Nancy manipulated the Good Judge to over-extend himself @ the Public Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday-p.m. Watch it next week and judge for yourself: http://abington.org/channel43.htm
Liz Barnhart October 07, 2011 at 01:16 PM
Since we no longer have an option of using the Patane property across the street (which the Patane's should have considered selling to the Township since it has been "abandoned" for 20 years now), the old bank site looks like a good alternative. I am sure that it would take money to get it in proper order, but the other proposed site would have too,
Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. October 07, 2011 at 01:29 PM
there is, indeed, an option: the Grove property this wouldn't cost $ 1/2 million [plus] don't blame the Patanes!
Victor B. Krievins October 07, 2011 at 07:00 PM
This entire matter stems upon dollars and cents. Because of economic circumstances as they are, it is simply not possible to fund this project since we are already facing a two million dollar deficit for 2012. Unfortunately this building cannot be fixed up with just a little paint. There are many issues at hand. Dr. Sklaroff is absolutely correct in his observation that the township may not move forward on this matter without the required advertisement of the intent. There is simply no time to comply, thus, the will of some to "act quickly" will not work as indicated by the law.
Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. October 07, 2011 at 07:09 PM
What should be investigated is why this entire kerfuffle was even raised @ the last-minute, when it's clear that--legally--there is insufficient time to satisfy notice/hearing requirements; did Schreiber really think she could slip-through this last-gasp boondoggle, again prioritizing her agenda over that of everyone else [both citizenry and commissioners]?
Victor B. Krievins October 07, 2011 at 07:19 PM
While the township had this building "inspected", I have learned that no Radon Test was attempted and not even an electrician was present for the inspection. This is comparable to "closing the barn door after the horse has been stolen". We really need to protect the few assets that the Township still has without placing our citizens (the poor forgotten taxpayers) in any further danger.
Victor B. Krievins October 08, 2011 at 02:11 PM
This entire matter is now moot. When the legalities of Advertising the Hearing have not been met, certain criteria (i.e. a simple Radon Test) have not been completed and the Township Budget for 2012 is already two million dollares in the hole, there is unfortunately no alternative. The "my, my my" syndrome similar to taking a small child to the check out line at the Super Market and seeing all the chocolate for sale and then going into an emotional fit because he/she is not permitted to have any is indicative of what is going on here. Please be sure to watch the Public Affairs Meeting on the link provided by Dr. Sklaroff to see first hand the antics of the Directress and Comm. Schreiber. An alternative site must be searched for and will be found without the haste and preassure which is ongoing at this time. I rest my case.
Victor B. Krievins October 18, 2011 at 08:05 PM
Now that the Radon Test Results are in, I wonder if those who stated "we must act fast" are still intent in spending additional township monies over and above what would have been spent in purchasing 1185 Easton Road (The Bank Building). The Radon Test results are extremely high indicating that the soil surrounding the building is super saturated with Radon as I had expected. I have inspected a sufficient number of buildings over the years to realize a potential problem. We cannot "shoot from the him" when finances are tight all over and there is NO ROOM FOR ERROR. Case Closed. We need to be very careful when spending hard earned Tax Dollars and put aside any personal pursuits and agendas once and for all!
Marc Lombardi October 18, 2011 at 09:19 PM
I think that the Grove Estate, as Victor Krievins has mentioned before (I believe), would also be a great location for the library. The question about that site is, can the building be salvaged? That home was in deplorable condition before it was turned back over to the township and even with all of the improvements made, I would wonder if the water damage throughout has left it comparable to the bank (mold, Radon, etc.). Clearly something needs to be done to relocate. And please -- no "shooting from the him" comments everyone. Mr. Krievins can get very emotional when it comes to spelling errors (especially when they're made by others). Let's give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant "shooting from the hip."
Robert B. Sklaroff, M.D. October 18, 2011 at 10:47 PM
Radon is a non-issue regarding Grove [unlike the recently-deceased Bank gambit]. The site will be rehabbed using existing-monies @ a bargain [apparently, because the contractor wants to accommodate Roslyn for personal reasons]. All ad-hominem comments aside, there appears to be consensus among the three of us that the cost-effective method to resolve multiple concerns is to relocate the library to this site [which would also serve as a community center for both Roslyn and Crestmont].
Victor B. Krievins October 19, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Mr. Lombardi, rest assured that the only true emotion shown was by the Directress at the Abington Township Public Affairs Meeting when yelling at a citizen. It was all captured on Camera and was also witnessed by some Abington Commissioners as well as a sitting Montgomery County Judge. As we all know, the Camera does not lie. Please keep your carcasim to your self as the rest of us clearly do not need it, deserve it, or even want it.
Victor B. Krievins October 19, 2011 at 01:55 PM
The Grove sure appears to be a sensible alternative at what looks like a reasonable cost to benefit not only Roslyn but Crestmont and Willow Grove. Lets look at this alternative very carefully to see if everything appears as it does on the surface.
Marc Lombardi October 19, 2011 at 07:53 PM
Mr. K: Don't worry. You will no longer have to put up with my carcasim. That's an Italian luncheonmean, right?

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