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Valatie set to join ranks of Green Library communities


VALATIE – The historic Steam Railroad Freight Barn on Route 9 will be transformed from a dusty, neglected building  with an overgrown lawn to an energy efficient, high ceilinged, light filled library, if the Valatie Free Library (VFL) board has its way.

The library bought the building a year ago and hired architect David Bienn, who specializes in sustainable, community based projects, to create a modern building with near “net-zero” energy use for the new village library. The library is chartered to serve not only Valatie, but Niverville, Kinderhook Lake and parts of the Town of Kinderhook. The Village of Kinderhook has its own library, which is chartered by the state to service the village and parts of Stuyvesant.

According to Lori Yarotsky, co-chair of “The Library We Want” capital campaign, the Valatie Library provides service to an area of 4,400 people. And now the board is trying to raise money for the new library through corporate and individual donations, and state library grants.

Neither Ms. Yarotsky nor Mr. Bienn, who sat down with the Columbia Paper in mid-July, would discuss the amount the board hopes to raise for the project, though they did say the capital campaign will start soon and they are already talking to donors about naming rights to sections of the library. A gala fundraiser is scheduled for this Saturday, August 11, at the Niverville Firehouse Pavilion.

Mr. Bienn said he and the library are waiting for concrete numbers on the construction costs and that design elements are still being discussed, especially those aspects where the library will try to keep up with current “green building” plans. But the library board has settled on a floor plan and some features, like added windows, an upstairs reading room and plantings around the building.

“This barn has really great bones,” Mr. Bienn said of the structure, which dates from the 1870s. He said what he and the board want to do is create an “ecological retrofit of an old building.”

The design has gotten some attention. The United Nations’ Sustainability Initiative, The Future We Want/Rio+20, selected the design to feature on its website. Ms. Yarotsky said that it was the only library to be showcased.

“The space is going to be dynamic and exciting,” said Mr. Bienn of the new library, which he hopes will open in March or April of 2013.

The new Roeliff Jansen Community Library in Copake, which serves Hillsdale, Copake and Ancram, and  opened a few years ago, was also designed and built under the guidelines for green buildings.

“I am very excited to give my full support for the VFL Sustainable Library project, offering our community a library they deserve,” Erica Balon, the president of the library Board of Trustees, said in a press release. She said that the board decided 10 years ago that they had outgrown the current space. “Since that time, the Board of Trustees have worked very hard to budget and save enough funds to allow our recent purchase of the building on Kinderhook Street,” Ms. Balon said in the release.

The VFL purchased the 1,900-square-foot building, at 1036 Kinderhook Street, in March of 2011 for $125,000. Their current space is 660 square feet. The board plans to sell the library building on Church Street after the library moves to the new building.

In an interview with the Columbia Paper in March of last year, Ms. Balon said, “We are really excited to have more space.” She also said she was excited for the library to be more visible on the main route, which also has a parking lot, unlike the current library.

For more information about the gala and capital campaign, email Tickets are on sale for the Gala at

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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