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Library officials say they gave it their best shot with branch library proposal

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MASSENA - Massena Public Library officials said they gave it their best shot in trying to establish a branch library in downtown Brasher Falls, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

“It was an opportunity from our end. I know that Brasher did not see it that way. We did the best we could. We kept it respectful,” marketing consultant Leslie Gardner told library board members during their meeting Tuesday, their first session since the proposition went down to a 511 to 58 defeat on Nov. 5.

The proposed branch library would have been located in Crapser Hall in the former Boothe Building. It was put on the ballot after library supporters gathered 81 signatures during a second petition drive, after the signatures on the first set of petitioons were disqualified because of irregularities. They needed 80 signatures, 10 percent of the registered Brasher voters who had cast their ballots in the last gubernatorial election, to move the petitions forward to the St. Lawrence County Board of Elections for inclusion on the ballot.

“A lot of supporters weren’t Brasher voters. They didn’t have a voice and they weren’t able to show their support,” Ms. Gardner said. “We did the best we could.”

“It was an opportunity. We weren’t out to get more business. It was worth a try,” board member Robert Manning said. “Folks really aren’t in a mood to see their taxes go up.”

How much taxes would have gone up was debated between Brasher Town Board members and library officials.

Massena Public Library officials said the proposition, if it had passed, would have translated to a tax increase of 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, an increase of $67 for the owner of a home assessed at $100,000. Town officials, however, said that, based on the town raising $385,014 in taxes for their highway and general fund, the increase would have been approximately 14.5 percent.

Ms. Gardner said she was sorry to see the plan go down.

“I’m sorry to the Friends of the Library,” who had paid for the cost of the marketing effort, she said. “My only regret is the Friends of the Library spent money. I don’t think there’s much we could have done that changed much. We kept it positive; we answered their questions.”

Library Director Elaine Dunne-Thayer thanked Ms. Gardner for her efforts.

“I thank Leslie for running a very positive campaign. As the Massena Public Library, we never resorted to half-truths and lies. We tried over and over again to present figures. We just went up against a stone wall,” she said, noting that she wished more voters had an opportunity to review the actual plan instead of listening to incorrect information.

Although the effort to site a branch library may have failed, Ms. Dunne-Thayer said they made a connection with the residents at LBSH during their marketing efforts. She suggested that the library could provide the residents with materials during the month, especially during the winter when it would be more difficult to travel to Massena. She said Samantha Page, the children’s library assistant, lives in Brasher and could deliver the materials to LBSH.

As part of the marketing effort, Ms. Dunne-Thayer had participated in a radio interview to explain what they wanted to do, and Ms. Gardner suggested that, even though the proposition had failed, the library director continue to make those on-air radio appearance.

“I recommend you continue to do interviews with WMSA, to get on the radio and talk to Massena and the surrounding communities about what’s happening at the library,” she said.

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