Tuesday, August 29, 2017 at 11:18 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, announcements, library, news, Patrick Gallivan.


Press release, file photo:

Sen. Patrick M. Gallivan (R-C- I, Elma) announced grants to 15 public libraries in Wyoming, Livingston and Monroe counties located in the 59th State Senate District. The libraries will share a total of $40,000.

“Public libraries enrich the lives of residents of all ages by providing access to books, films, computers and the Internet,” Gallivan said. “People can do research, advance their education, write a resume or search for a job from the comfort of their neighborhood library. It’s important to make sure these facilities have the resources necessary to meet the needs of the communities they serve.”

The grants are to be used for technology related programs and services, including the purchase of computer equipment, or security-related items.

The following libraries in Wyoming County received $2,500 each:

  • Arcade Free Library
  • Cordelia A. Greene Library (Castile)
  • Eagle Free Library
  • Perry Public Library
  • Pike Library
  • Stevens Memorial Library (Attica)
  • Town of Gainesville Public Library
  • Warsaw Public Library
  • Wyoming Free Circulating Library Association
Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at 5:15 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, education, library, Attica.



In September, 10 Attica community members got together and formed a fundraising committee to help generate enough money to assist in the renovations of the Stevens Memorial Library, Main Street, Attica.

Since October, the committee has raised close to $63,000 toward the improvements, thanks in part by the Attica Lions Club’s donation of $10,000. The Lions Club money was left over from the Attica Walking Path fundraiser the club held in 2015 - 2016 to repair the damages to the path at the Attica Veterans Memorial Park on Exchange Street.

“It was a feeling of ‘so…we can really do this’ from the committee,” said Library Director Nancy Burns. “We received $300,000 each from the Library Construction and Library Community grants, $50,000 from Senator (Patrick) Gallivan, and $63,000 the library committee has raised so far.”

Between the grants and other donations, the Library has $700,000 of the $800,000 to complete the whole project.

Committee members Barbara Helik and Teresa Wright, as co-chairs; and Emma Edwards, Maggie Dadd, Linda Camp, Sandra Eck, Amy Meisner, Charles Williman, Chris Kipfer, and Linda Kruszka, began actively raising funds in October.

Renovations will begin at the back entrance to comply with the American Disabilities Act. A ramp will be installed along the left side of the entrance and a new glass door will be set in place. In addition to the ramp, a set of four steps will also be available. That is, of course, after several walls are removed.

“We will be raising the floor and taking out some walls,” Burns said. “The idea is to have a more open feel with easy access to new releases, magazines, DVDs and holds. There will be a seating area, and the computers will be relocated to run along the left of the ramp. It will have a more open feel to it than the hackneyed set up it is now. It will be a huge benefit for our older patrons.”

The new open space will also house the circulation desk, as well as two additional desks and an art wall that will showcase art from the Arts Council of Wyoming County and other artists.

“They will be a highlight as patrons walk through the door. And instead of spending the money to get a new circulation desk, we are going to repurpose the old one.”

In addition to saving money on the desk, new windows will be installed for not only light and safety concerns, but energy efficiency as well. 

The “children’s room” will remain virtually unchanged but for the addition of a “support” window so staff and parents can keep an eye on their youngest charges.

Not only is the library renovating the bathroom to be handicap accessible, it will be adding an additional one for convenience.

Once the circulation desk is moved from the library proper the open space will become the “program” space complete with a flat-screen TV for movies, games and presentations. The expanded area will also be used for story hour and more. Additionally, the stacks (bookshelves) will be rearranged for ease of use for people in wheelchairs.

And with all the moving of displays and desks, the library will feature new commercial carpet tile, for easy cleaning and replacement, as well as aesthetic purposes. 

Once the rear of the building is complete, renovations to the Main Street entrance will begin. 

“As you are facing the building from Main Street, the new entrance will be on the left of the building, closer to the parking lot, but with better safety measures for the little ones.”

The small porch – 12 by 15 feet – will be furnished in memory of Edwin Helak, who died April 7.

“When Edwin and his wife, Barbra, came in, one would often sit on the porch and wait for the other. So we are sort of looking at the seating as a ‘you go find a book, I’ll wait here until you’re done’ type of arrangement.”

Even with the new entrance, the concrete lions will remain sitting prominently at the front of the building. The statues will be moved to the front steps, however, and will be set on raised platforms to help preserve them. 

The lions had become a landmark in Attica after the children of the Pauly family and their neighbors would often be found playing on them in the early 1900s.

The lions have made their rounds in the northwest corner of the county. According to the Attica Historical Society, the carved monuments were first delivered by rail from Colorado to the home of Cordon Thomson at 193 Main St., Attica, in the 1800s. They were then sold in the 1900s to Samuel Blanch Ford at 285 Main St.. Then the property was sold to Anton Pauly in 1910, which included the lions. 

When the Main Street property was sold in 1978, the lions were not included in the sale. Instead, they were moved to the home of Karen Kell Acquard in Bennington, a relative of the Paulys. When Acquard and her husband decided to move to Florida around 1990, they donated the lions to the library.

They have had “considerable restoration,” courtesy of the Friends of Stevens Memorial Library, with “Ray Caryl and George Schmidt doing most of the work,” which included a permanent raised foundation.

Another addition to the front entrance will be both a handicap accessible door, as well as a standard door. There will also be an overhang to shelter patrons and the addition of four columns supports.

“We are trying to make the entrance blend in more with its surroundings. The committee worked hard to get the funding to make all this happen and we are excited for the project to start. Luckily, the library received the funding during the last grant cycle, as the governor (Andrew Cuomo) just proposed a $9 million cut to the public library system.”

The building which houses the library was built in 1823 and was home to the Stevens family. The last Stevens family to live in the home had no children of their own, and upon their death, the family gave the structure to the Village in 1893. The Village then turned the building into a library and funded it until the early 2000s.

According to Burns, sometime between 2001-2003, the library became a School District Library (NYS Education Department), catering to the Attica School District children and community.

“The proposed cut would be a huge impact to the library…it would take away the little grants that are inherent to getting programs and materials to expand services and programming at the library.”

In addition to the construction grant for the library’s renovations, Burns said the facility has received several grants last year that benefit its patrons.

They include:

    • Tech Grant up to $1,500 to bring in a new technology. Stevens Memorial Library was able to purchase a 3-D printer and new laptop to run this printer. The funding bought the equipment, however, the library purchased the extended tech and warranty support;

    • Play Spaces grant up to $900 to bring a new area of play for children. The library bought one Lego table complete with two chairs, and Legos and Duplo pieces ($700); and 

    • 1,000 books Before Kindergarten grant allowed the library to purchase quality paperback books for the kids to earn. For every 100 books a child 1 to 5 years old reads, the child can choose a book to take home and keep. Additionally, Wyoming County kids can earn an additional book every month from Project Read just by reading 15 minutes a day for 20 days.  

“These are wonderful ‘little assistances' to all the libraries that will be be lost if aid is cut to the systems in New York State. If the $9 million is taken away, the Library Systems will be back at 2000 spending levels and just surviving their costs. Libraries are education and while tuition is important to families, school help for all students is up to the public libraries when the school doors close at 4 p.m. Attica is hampered by no cable outside the village limits, so the library is very busy for homework online assignments, information gathering, and printing.”

The library doesn’t just function on budgets and grants and state funding alone, it also relies on the patrons that support it, too.

Recently, the Stevens Memorial Library became a benefactor in the Brownstone Book fund, a private foundation in New York City. The foundation was founded by a NYC couple who were interested in “fostering early reading, a love of books and encouraging parents and children to read together.” The couple wishes to remain anonymous and only asks the library to put a “Brownstone Books” sticker on each of the 100 titles they received. The collection caters to children and mostly contains picture books.

“One of the best gifts you can give your child is the time spent reading with them,” Burns said.









Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 6:51 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, news, education, library, Warsaw.



Photos submitted.

According to Warsaw Public Library Director Lisa Gricius, the governor’s proposed decrease in library funding would take libraries back to the 2015 level of funding. Additionally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposes a $5 million cut from the Library Construction Aid program. That cut alone decreases available funding for this region by about $150,000.

Rebekkah Smith-Aldrich had this to say following the announcement of the governor’s budget proposal to cut nearly 5 percent in library funding: “It is hard sometimes for outsiders to understand how critical library system services are to running a local library. I always use the line, ‘for every $1 invested at the state level, it results in $7 worth of services for local constituents.’ We have a great return on investment and this cut could shift costs, in a very inefficient way, to the locality.”

Smith-Aldrich is the coordinator for Library Sustainability at Mid-Hudson Library System, Hudson.

“These actions come at the same time as the governor’s proposal to increase education funding by $1 billion and ‘double down’ on infrastructure spending across the state,” Gricius said. “The governor’s stated priorities and actions toward libraries don’t make sense. Libraries are education. And library buildings are the keystones of small community infrastructure.”

“Unfortunately, it (the budget) includes a cut to State Library Aid and Library Construction Aid. His budget takes back the legislative adds our representatives fought for,” said Pioneer Library System Executive Director Lauren Moore. “These cuts come at the same time as he is proposing a 4-percent increase in education funding. This is an unfair approach to funding because, as we all know, libraries are education.”

In addition to taxes levied on the library’s behalf from its respective town and school district, the Pioneer Library System also supports the library at the local level by using state funding and divvying it up between the libraries within its network. In the case of the Warsaw Library, it’s part of a network of 42 libraries across Ontario, Wayne, Wyoming and Livingston counties – Owwl.

The Owwl network allows Warsaw residents to access about two million in library materials across the region and request to have those materials delivered to Warsaw. A reduction in state aid could result in slower delivery service, fees for patrons, or increased costs to local libraries. Additionally, it could seriously affect the children who are homeschooled. Currently, they get books they need or want from other libraries and the service is free.

The governor’s proposed budget cuts may decrease the tech positions in the library system. The potential for lessened digital services is possible without the support of the system.

“The digital collection is a system-wide thing,” Gricius said. “Each local library contributes some to purchase the material, but we can’t afford to be a part of that service with that kind of budget decrease. Those who can't come into the library use digital devices for ebooks and magazines.”

This year Warsaw Public Library was able to quadruple the bandwidth available to its patrons, thanks to a subsidy from the Pioneer Library System. That subsidy is funded by state aid and without it the library would not be able to provide adequate bandwidth levels. 

“State aid funds system-wide access to genealogy website, Mango language-learning website, and downloadable ebooks, audiobooks, and magazines through Owwl2Go and Zinio. Warsaw Public Library would not be able to support any of these services without state aid,” Gricius said.

The cuts don’t just affect the libraries services, it may affect basic improvements necessary to keep the building safe, accessible and open. Funding is needed to complete projects such as electrical rewiring and window replacement. Many of the libraries in the Owwl network are more than 100 years old. To meet the needs of the communities, many of the facilities require additional meeting spaces, accommodations for new technology, and renovations to make spaces fully accessible.

“We qualify for 75 percent of the funding and only having to kick in 25 percent, which has to be budgeted in the annual budget,” Gricius said. “We don’t get county funding to operate. We work solely with the money collected by school and town taxes and funding appropriated by the state.”

“Our job is to be good stewards of the resources the public has already invested in, state aid for construction ensures we can keep up with community demand,” Smith-Aldrich said. “The real kicker is that the library-aid formula hasn't been updated since pre-Internet days, so to not even fully fund libraries with an out-of-date formula is just setting New Yorkers up for failure. In a post-truth world our work is more important that ever. We should be a centerpiece of the Governor's plan for the future of New York instead of an afterthought.”

A library is more than the books it houses and the building itself, they are a place where children can go after school for tutoring and homework help. They are a place where an adult can go to continue their education if secondary school is unaffordable. As Gricius put it “libraries have continuously provided opportunities for enrichment in an environment dedicated to creativity and free inquiry.”

To bring about awareness of how much a library not only means to a community, but also how much residents save on an annual basis by using a library.

The Warsaw Library is hosting two initiatives: a postcard campaign where patrons can write to the governor telling him why the library is important to them. They will be taken to Albany on Advocacy Day in March. The other campaign the library is working on is asking patrons to use the “value calculator.” The calculator is an indicator of how patrons use the library and what it would cost them on an annual basis if services were lost.

“People's voices and stories are important. Not everyone realizes that we can lose this,” Gricius said. “It's important to have their voices heard because they do matter.”

“We have a fight ahead of this year, but with an organized advocacy effort we might be able to convince the legislature to add equitable library funding into the final budget,” Moore said. “We're going to need every single library supporter in the Pioneer region to say loud and clear: ‘Libraries are education. We deserve fair funding.’ "

For more information on the Warsaw Library’s initiatives visit the library or its website at



Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 3:14 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, education, library, reading, Perry, Castile.



Children learn words through the exposure and sound of them. When a child is read to, not only does it teach them how words sound but what they represent as well. Exposure to words and the sound of them make it easier for a person to learn to read.

Reading is fundamental in everyday life, it is essential for success. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, in 2003, 13 percent of Wyoming County’s adult residents lacked basic prose literacy skills.

“You don’t teach reading,” said Project Read of Wyoming County Executive Director Marie-Elena Deeney. “It works backwards. You learn to read as you are reading. By exposing children to words and how to read expression, they come to the process of learning to read. Studies show that reading to an infant, even in the womb, creates a bond. Holding a child and hearing the sounds of words gives them a sense of words.”

Project Read has been in existence in this county for almost 40 years. The family reading program encourages parents to be their child’s first teacher. It provides a positive experience for both kids and parents. The goal is to have parent-child interaction be the motivating factor. As an added bonus, the program features a Project Read Calendar: participants who read 15 minutes a day, 20 days out of the month, get a reward.

Deeney has a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in Elementary Education. She has been the director of Project Read since 2004 and was a Language Arts teacher at the elementary school in Perry. She was also the librarian from 1997 to 2005 at Saint Michael's School in Warsaw. 

“My mom got me into books. I think she read every book published,” she said. “She was born to Italian immigrants and spoke no English until she was 5 years old.”

Project Read is a not-for-profit (501(c)3) organization run by a Board of Directors, which is made up of 13 members – local elementary and high school teachers, and a librarian from Perry. Oftentimes when the group attends events like the Wyoming County Fair in Pike, teenagers will often come in and ask to have stories read to them.

“If your children are struggling as students, reading to them will help. Hearing rhyming sounds and the cadence of words makes a difference in one’s ability to learn a language.”

Project Read is primarily funding through the United Way, however, they also receive support from the Letchworth Teachers Association, memorials, and the State Employees Federated Appeal (SEFA).

“Time is more of a factor now when it comes to squeezing in that little bit of time to read. Your child isn’t evaluating your reading ability, they are just enjoying the story. And forget about skipping a page or word out of their favorite book, they will notice.” 

For more info call Marie-Elena Deeney (585) 493-2130 or email her at






Photos were taken at the Cordelia Greene Library​ in Castile.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 12:21 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, library, events, Bliss, Eagle, Eagle FREE LIBRARY.
Event Date and Time: 
July 30, 2015 - 2:00pm

Join the summer arts program for children and adults at the Eagle Free Library, 3413 School Street, Bliss, at 2 p.m. Thursdays.

July 30: The Steadfast Tin Soldier puppet show by Robert Rogers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 12:20 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, events, library, Bliss, Eagle, Eagle FREE LIBRARY.
Event Date and Time: 
July 23, 2015 - 2:00pm

Join the summer arts program for children and adults at the Eagle Free Library, 3413 School Street, Bliss, at 2 p.m. Thursdays.

July 23: Summer Fun Concert with Dave Ruch

July 30: The Steadfast Tin Soldier puppet show by Robert Rogers.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at 12:19 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, library, Eagle, Bliss, Eagle FREE LIBRARY.
Event Date and Time: 
July 16, 2015 - 2:00pm

Join the summer arts program for children and adults at the Eagle Free Library, 3413 School Street, Bliss, at 2 p.m. Thursdays.

July 16: Every Hero Has a Story with the Genesee Storytellers.

July 23: Summer Fun Concert with Dave Ruch

July 30: The Steadfast Tin Soldier puppet show by Robert Rogers.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 at 12:27 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, summer, reading, library, Warsaw Library, Warsaw.



The local library is a place in the community where people are told “yes.” Yes, you can come in and we will find that for you. Yes, you can come to the program even if you don’t have a library card. There are so many things a library can say say “yes” to. According to Children’s Library Assistant Mary Conable, it’s important to a community for a place they can go where the staff tries to find a way to say “yes” to people.

“That's why we are so involved in the community -- to support and encourage the importance of what you are doing,” Conable said. "It's so important for young children to see people read and to be exposed to language – the more their brain grows. If they don't get exposure, they will lose a part of that. It's important to keep those connections going so they can keep the connections going.”

Currently, the library is in the middle of the Community Half Marathon, an all-ages reading program. How the marathon works: read weekly, exercise at least one mile a week, and do one good deed a week. Keep track of your activity in the marathon tracker and bring it to the library each week for a chance to win prizes. 

The Final Mile Festival of Fun and book walk is planned for Aug. 8 at the Warsaw Village Park, off Liberty Street, Warsaw.

“We found we wanted to focus on the good deed part of the marathon program,” Conable said, “to help kids to think about where they can help and be more involved with the broader community.” 

The library is also doing a series of nature programs this summer, sponsored the Gillen Family.

Jim Gillen was a surveyor for Gillen & Wellman Land Surveyors and he has very generously supported the library throughout the years. This year, the Gillen family decided to do it in a broader way through their giving-back fund. The first program, held Tuesday, featured the Wegmans' Zoomobile. 

Another summer reading program focuses on superheroes. In the literary sense, every book has a hero and antihero, this theme is a reminder that every hero has a story. Escape from the ordinary; unmask; reveal more of who you are; heroes are ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

“Heroes can be more than just fictional characters, they all tie into the theme of superhero,” Conable said. “Our focus is a little bit of individual superheroes, but also being a community hero. It's to get kids comfortable in the library and get them to come back more than once in summer.”

Typically, when one thinks of a superhero, comic books or the graphic novel may come to mind. However, today, graphic novels present more than just fictional characters. While the book is in comic format, graphic novels delve into other genres as well.

“It’s really to have some fun,” Conable said. “Heroes can be more than just fictional characters. There are sports heroes, literary heroes, historical heroes...the list is expansive.

“The superhero theme is a lot of fun for many people,” Conable said. “When we went into the schools we asked kids what super power they would want. Most of the kids said they wanted to fly or turn into an animal. One student said they wanted to be invincible because of their siblings. It’s amazing what the kids will come up with. We also tie it in academically – become a super reader.”

With another school year in the books, summer reading is about choice. The Warsaw Library chooses themes that are broad enough to reach a larger audience. Along with special programming, the library continues it general reading program throughout the summer as well.

“We focus a lot in all-age programs to get the families in together,” said Library Director Lisa Gricius. “Mary’s story-time programs encourage parents and grandparents to come; concerts in the circle, sponsored by the Warsaw Kiwanis, is a family event; teens will even come in with their younger siblings, which is why we focus on all ages, so everyone feels welcome to come to the programs.”

According to Gricius, teenagers will come in quite a bit to use the computer and use the library for what they want to use if for; but they like the library and do use it for a variety of purposes.

“We definitely connect with the kids when they are here,” Gricius said. “We are able to have the materials here that they are interested in, and they take advantage of volunteer opportunities, too.”

Libraries are for everyone, they are nondiscriminatory. According to Conable, there is a connection with the older kids after watching them grow.

“Kids do so much and they are working so very hard in doing so much that be become a smaller part of their lives, but they still come by,” Conable said. “And if their families use the library, they are more apt to, too.”

Programming at the library is to keep the library as part of a family’s calendar; to keep a presence in their lives; to let them know it’s still there; and to come in and take advantage of what is available. 

For more information about the programs offered at the Warsaw Library, visit










Tuesday, May 26, 2015 at 9:16 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, library, Warsaw.

Press release:

Warsaw Public Library gratefully acknowledges the many memorial donations received on behalf of loved ones this past year. Visit the library to view the materials chosen in memory and honor of those we have lost, and those we wish to honor. 

The library would also like to thank David DiMatteo, Esq., and the family of Dorothy Herman for sponsoring the Memorial Day Pennysaver advertisement for memorials and honorariums received from May 2014 through May 2015. 

Finally, the Warsaw Public Library thanks all who support the library through their generous donations. To view the Pennysaver ad online, visit pages 32 and 33 at

Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 3:21 pm
posted by Billie Owens in library, Attica, Perry, Wyoming, Warsaw.

Warsaw Public Library, along with several other Wyoming County libraries, is once again participating in the international initiative “Take Your Child to the Library Day” on Saturday Feb. 7th.

The initiative, launched in 2011, encourages families everywhere to take their children to their local public library. It's the third year Warsaw Public Library has participated. This year the event will run between 2 and 4 p.m. Families can drop in at any time during the event and join the festivities.

We will be transforming the entire lower level into a life-sized Candy Land board game. Join us for crafts, activities, candy bingo and more! Meet Candy Land characters along the board! Stop at each station for a new activity! Decorate a gingerbread man or gingerbread girl sugar cookie, make candy jewelry, have your picture taken at the lollipop photo booth, watch Queen Frostine create a snow explosion, and more!

At Perry Public Library, families can stop in at any time when the library is open from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. While at the Perry Public library, families can dive into their giant box of Legos. Guest readers will be available all day to read individually to children. They will have cookies and milk available for hungry readers and special incentives to encourage families to sign up for or use their library card.

Stevens Memorial Library in Attica will be giving away special prizes to children who come to the library between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Feb. 7.

And at Wyoming Free Library, celebrate “Mouse Mischief” with a story, movie, craft and snacks from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Monday, December 1, 2014 at 8:07 pm
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, library, Warsaw.

Press release:

Electronic devices have become a bigger part of peoples lives all the time. It is easy to wonder how much and what electronic resources should be a part of a digital diet. Warsaw Public Library Children’s Library Assistant Mary Conable will present a story time for preschool children using an iPad at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 30 at the library, Main Street. Answers to questions like, how much time should children spend with devices and where does one go to find the best apps, will be touched upon that evening. The story time event will also give you a chance to see some of the apps that will be available at the library.

“If you choose how you use devices like the iPad carefully, technology can help you read, sing, talk, and play more with your children,” Conable said. “The library has added an iPad to the children’s area hoping to help families learn how technology can enrich family time.”

The iPad is one of 19 distributed throughout the four-county Pioneer Library System. A training session held in Canandaigua earlier this year highlighted the work of librarians throughout the country who are researching the best uses of technology for library patrons.

The evening will culminate with the dropping of a New Year’s eve ball from the balcony of the library.

“In the spirit of fun,” library officials said. “You are invited to wear your pajamas to this story time.”

For more information contact Mary Conable at or via phone at 585-786-5650 or check out the Web site at

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 7:22 am
posted by Julia Ferrini in Wyoming County, Perry, library.


When Samuel Gates buried his wife in August 1812, he would have had no idea that that initial burial would lead to a firestorm of controversy more than 100 years later. 

Several members of the Perry community are locking horns with the Perry Public Library, over a proposed parking lot that will sit adjacent to the library itself. According to Perry resident Michael Anne Mercer, there are several issues entwined with the parking lot issue. The initial question raised, is the validity of the library’s ownership of the parcel of land on which it sits. Mercer claims the ball was dropped when the cemetery property was given to the town. However, to understand the controversy over the parking lot, some history is required.

Documents Mercer has indicate that Gates settled in Perry around 1808-1809, and built a house on the property that would eventually be called The Old Burial Ground, the unofficial name of the cemetery he inadvertently started when he buried his wife on his land. Furthermore, it is understood that he also planted an oak tree by his wife’s grave to honor her. When Gates passed away in 1813, he was buried next to his wife. During the course of several years, many other members of the Perry community were buried in the cemetery until it reached capacity in about 1851.

President of the Perry Public Library Board of Trustees Dave Bojanowski, offers a different story on the erection of the "Pioneer Cemetery" as it is currently called. According to Bojanowski, Levi Benton was the original land owner, as he owned several acres of land in Perry. When Josiah Williams lost his daughter Nancy in 1811, he buried her behind his property, which ended up being on Benton’s land. Since Benton had no issue with the burial, other members of the town also buried their loved ones on the property. However, when Benton began selling off his land, his stipulation was that "this one acre be left for The Old Burial Ground."

“When parcels were being sold off around the Pioneer Cemetery, parts of the one acre were being encroached upon,” Bojanowski said. “The property where the library is, is only on three-quarters of the acre left for the cemetery. There are encroachments from all directions. We don’t know exactly where the cemetery property lines actually were.”

The debate as to who really owns the library grounds is a bit muddied by unclear records. Mercer believes that the town neglected to follow the legislative act that was passed on March 7, 1912, which allowed the town to use the cemetery grounds for something other than a cemetery purpose, due to the fact that no internment was made in the cemetery for several years. The law also states that "special consideration has to be made for exhuming the bodies and markers." Furthermore, the document stated that the library was not to disturb the graves which bear identification.

According to Bojanowski, the community in the late 1800s decided that the cemetery was a public health nuisance. It is assumed, because there aren’t accurate records, that the bodies were removed and relocated to the Hope Cemetery. Mercer, too, noted that bodies where exhumed and moved to the Hope Cemetery.

“My understanding of the transfer of the property to have a library built was done properly and accurately,” Bojanowski said. “The legal council of the library said that the Perry Public Library belongs to the library. My belief is that the library validly owns the property. There is a difference of opinion.”

Both Mercer and Bojanowski agree that records indicate that in 1911 the Town of Perry voted to build a library on the site where the cemetery stood. The Perry town supervisor contacted industrialist/philanthropist Andrew Carnegie and requested a donation to build a library. Carnegie complied, donating $12,000 to the town with the stipulation that it put in 10 percent of the donation -- $1,200 -- for the yearly maintenance. The New York State Legislature allowed the town to use the property with the requirement that any bodies found had to be removed and properly buried in another location.

Mercer questions the way in which the bodies were really handled when they were exhumed from the cemetery because of headstones found near the Silver Lake Outlet by a group of kids who were exploring the area.

According to an article printed on July 18, 1913, in the Buffalo Express, while digging the basement of what was to be the foundation of the library, workmen unearthed 32 bodies. The deceased were buried in a mass grave behind the library. However, to this date it is unclear where they were buried, as there is no marker nor monument to indicate the location.

“The mass grave is assumed to be behind the library,” Bojanowski said. “It is not on the property where the lot is proposed to be. Even the library does not know what happened to the marker or monument of the mass grave. Nobody really knows for sure. We were looking for better public access to the library. We at the library have taken a quiet disciple approach. We want to make it easier for the public to access the library. The parking across the street is not a good longtime solution.”

Theoretically, the nearby churches could, at some time in the future, request that their lots not be used by patrons of the library. According to Bojanowski, the county will not stripe the street because it is not wide enough to provide on-street parking. To alleviate any future parking problem, the library bought a house to put in a parking lot.

“The library is built on a cemetery, and when we do construction in the area, how do we do so with keeping respect of those who may be buried on the property?” Bojanowski asked. “We want to improve the library for the living and want to respect those who still may be buried on the grounds, yet nobody really knows for sure if any graves are still on the site.”

According to Mercer, in 2008, the library was purchased from the town by the library for $1. The Perry Public Library is part of the Pioneer Library System (OWWL). In 2010, the Perry Public Library was awarded a portion of the New York State Public Library Construction Grant. A total of $86,510 in grant money plus library funds were used to purchase 72 N. Main St., the site of the proposed parking lot. The library also used private funds that were bequeathed to the library.

In March 2008, a study was done for Perry’s Main Street District by SRF and Associates. According to documentation, the recommendation was to use shared parking lots. This minimizes parking over-supply and makes existing parking more effective.

“There is an acre parking lot between the Presbyterian and Baptist churches that are directly across from the library and (it) has been used for 100 years,” Mercer said. “The average speed of travelers on Main Street is approximately 25 mph. So crossing the street is not an issue.”

The library’s board of trustees, in 2011, contacted the NY State Office of Historic Preservation -- the authority in NYS that oversees cemeteries. The office advised the board to have a cultural resource study done on the property, which was completed through Rochester Museum and Science Center and Archeology Department. They determined that there was "no evidence of human remains on the property" that the library purchased for the parking lot. The recommendation was given to complete the project and no further study needed to be done. The library forwarded the findings to the State Office of Historic Preservation, which gave the library the go-ahead to continue with the project.

According to Mercer, there are numerous people who are opposed to the building of a parking lot. Several lawsuits have been filed to try and stop the parking lot from happening.

“There are 364 signatures on a petition who oppose the parking lot,” Mercer said. “People are simply saying that they just don't want it to happen.”

“We have an approved plan for the parking lot but want to make a few changes that need to be approved by the board,” Bojanowski said. "The most important thing is that we are going to have an archeologist on site while excavation is happening. Their responsibility is to monitor for human remains during excavation and the archeologist has total control over the site. The library gave them the right to stop construction to check for human remains. We are doing everything we possibly can to ensure that the lot will not be constructed on any burial plots.”

“It’s a farther walk to go from the proposed parking lot than it is to walk across the street,” Mercer said. “In the 100 years the library has been here, there is no recorded accident, incident or problem occurring in front of the library from people crossing the street.

“We need to work as a group to stop this parking lot from happening,” Mercer continued. “We need to get together as a group.”

The Town of Perry Planning Board will meet Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Fireman’s Building at the Perry Village Park to discuss the changes the Perry Public Library would like to make to the proposed parking lot.



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