June 15, 2011
Cortland library celebrates renovations
New elevator, children’s room entrance dedicated to longtime patron Lee Taylor
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Lee Taylor, center, joins a group touring the newly renovated portions of the Cortland Free Library Tuesday during an open house. The new entryway leading into the children’s library and a new elevator are named in honor of Taylor for his impact on the library and community.
Former city librarian Warren Eddy wondered if in the years to come a child would see the plaque on the wall of the Cortland Free Library and ask who Mr. Taylor was.
Eddy offered an answer Tuesday as a new elevator and youth department entrance were dedicated to Lee Taylor, a retired lawyer and longtime library board member.
“Leland B. Taylor was a giant in library history and in area history,” Eddy said during a speech at the dedication ceremony, as he recalled stories about Taylor’s 55 years on the library board.
Taylor helped obtain funding from Cortlandville, made trips to Albany to talk about library issues and acquired the apartments next door to add parking, Eddy said.
After he finished, Eddy stepped past Taylor, adding “I hope I did you justice.”
After the dedication, and a ride in the elevator with his wife, Rosemary, Taylor was modest about his accomplishments.
“Other people have done more than I have,” he said, crediting the other people on the board who he has worked with over the years.
Taylor said he never thought a portion of the building would be named after him, and was surprised when he was notified about three weeks ago.
“This is very close to my heart,” he said.
Diane Ames, president of the library board of trustees, said the board unanimously decided the elevator and entrance should be named for someone special, and noted Taylor’s service to the board and community.
Mayor Susan Feiszli read a proclamation from the city citing Taylor’s community service throughout the years.
Taylor, originally from Poughkeepsie, retired from his law practice in December after 62 years, and also served as city judge for six years in the 1950s.
He was also an officer with the New York State Bar Association in the 1970s and represented the Sixth Judicial District, which includes Cortland County among 10 counties, as vice president.
Taylor was active in the Rotary Club for 57 years and is vice chairman of the board of directors at the First National Bank of Dryden.
Taylor also served in the Navy from 1942 to 1946, and was a supply officer on a destroyer, the USS Remery.
The funding for the $700,000 renovation, which also included bathrooms, lighting and three offices, came from a $392,000 grant from the state library construction grant program, a $20,000 grant secured through state Sen. James L. Seward (R-Milford), and the remainder from the J.M. McDonald Foundation and various library investments and donations.
With the first phase of the library upgrades nearly complete, Library Director Kay Zaharis said the focus will now turn to replacing the crumbling ramp on the front of the building.
The repairs and other improvements to the front of the building will include steps similar to those used when the library was built in 1926.
The library was awarded a $156,000 state library construction grant last month, which it hopes to match with donations.
The steps and repairs to the front will likely cost about $450,000, while the cost of revamping electrical wiring, ventilation and plaster for portions of the library, including the children’s room, is estimated at $500,000 to $600,000.
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