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Vol. 13/Number 7 February 15, 2013 Town wavers on library funds OVERCOMING ADVERSITY Joe Maida (left) competes in the wrestlebacks at the Section I wrestling tournament on Feb. 11. Despite wrestling on a bad knee, Maida was able to place fifth in his weight class and earn all-section honors. For more, see page 15 Photo/Bobby Begun HHS construction set for September completion By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER Board of Education President Dennis DiLorenzo (right) receives a $125,000 check from Harrison Educational Foundation Chairman Robert Tiburzi. The check is the first of two donations from the private organization for the renovation project. Contributed photo Students at Harrison High School will soon get to experience a more collegiate atmosphere at lunchtime as the district looks to renovate its current cafeteria facility to match the functional purpose of a student union facility. Part of the Harrison Central School District’s three-phase construction project, which began seven years ago with the renovations to the school’s performing arts center, the new cafeteria is slated to be complete and operational by September. And like the recent construction to the school’s fitness center, planetarium and arts center, the new facility will be maintained by the students, for the students, according CAFETERIA continued on page 7 By DANIEL OFFNER STAFF REPORTER Harrison government and the public library foundation appear close to reaching an agreement over the town’s contribution to a $3.6 million renovation project for the downtown library. The progress is a stark about-face from elected officials, who publicly stated on several occasions that they would not authorize subsidizing the project in any way. Negotiations have picked up steam after a push from the library foundation that included a resident petition, print advertising campaign and the threat that a memorial grant would be pulled for the renovation if the council didn’t loosen up its purse strings. The Harrison Public Library Foundation’s director, Ross Halperin, sought for the Town Council to subsidize $1.1 million in maintenance costs for the existing facility. Town Councilman Joseph Cannella, a Republican, said the town was willing to contribute to the cost of renovations, but said anticipated the amount might be conservative compared to the foundation’s original pitch. “Once this partnership is formed, hopefully we will generate additional power, force and intensity,” Cannella said. “There are things the town needs to do to maintain buildings. If this project happens, which we expect that it will, it will be an opportunity to do things that we would otherwise need to do anyways within the next reasonable period of time, four or five years.” The councilman had previously said issuing bonds for such a project just wasn’t feasible in the current fiscal climate of the town. “We just can’t do it,” Cannella told The Harrison Report in July of last year. During the Feb. 7 meeting of the Town Council, Councilman Cannella explained that, given the restrictions of the town budget, the community would need to provide grassroots fundraising if they are to agree to work with Halperin to complete the project. Halperin is the son of Richard E. Halperin, a deceased resident for whom the downtown library is named. A foundation in Richard E. Halperin’s name will contribute up to $1 million in matching donations. Ross Halperin had told elected officials if they did not meet a deadline of Feb. 14, he would seek to use the donation for another project. The progress did not jibe with everyone though. During last week’s Town Council meeting, downtown resident Art Loscalzo questioned why members of the council, who previously stated they could not afford to subsidize the cost, suddenly changed their decision. “I think this town board should take care of the young people of this town…I think more young people and more adults use the rec center than the library,” Loscalzo said, calling attention to infrastructure issues with the Sollazzo Center across the street from Town Hall. “I was in there last night, and I am embarrassed to say that this is the facility for the Town of Harrison. It’s utterly ridiculous, its filthy, and it needs some work done.” Loscalzo continued to question the board on where they had obtained the necessary funding for the library renovation project. “If we have no money for the rest LIBRARY continued on page 10

Harrison Report 2-15-13

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