When I had to move from Essex County a year ago to be near family I searched out a house I could stay in until I got old.
It had to be within walking distance of a NYC bus, a milk store and a library. After 7 months of looking I found it here in Middletown, 0.6 miles from the Navesink Library.
Imagine my horror when after I settled in and started paying attention I read in November that maybe the library would be closed!
After the holidays I went down to offer to volunteer and found out it was all over. The library was closing the end of January. I looked up the minutes of the Board of Trustees and found it was business as usually until November when there was a good amount of discussion about the pros and cons of shutting down libraries.
In 60 days from what seems to me to be preliminary discussions to a public statement that a decision has been formalized… in only 60 days.
Less than 2 years ago there was a $1.1 million dollar surplus in the library budget and now it is all gone. About half of that was given to the municipal budget along with reassurance form the mayor that this would not cause the library to close.
And yet that is what is happening.
When you say, “I am from Bayshore” or ‘I live in Navesink” it means something to you. According to urban design theory, it means that you have memories, present circumstances and future purposes that revolve around the places where you live. It is your personal geography.
Common places that are touchstones for personal geography are landmarks and sacred spaces. People use these special and unique spots to orient themselves, identify a place, for activities, and generally give meaning to their lives.
When a place is part of a common experience, like a library, then you have what is called a social space. It is created unselfconsciously and defined by society for a functional reason. It helps give you identity and connection to community. It helps define a community’s future.
I believe more discussion on the options possible with the limited funds available ought to take place before any final decisions are made about leaving empty public buildings as the future of Middletown.