Library project creates a lot of controversy in Wyoming County village
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"I just want to know my family's safe,” said Melanie Booth, a neighbor.
"Revolutionary War veterans – I think their graves should be respected, and I think there are any number of them buried here,” said Carolyn Grieve, a neighbor and historian.
In any argument there are at least two sides, but in this one, there are more.
"We have revised our plan many times, trying to compromise with the protesters,” said Peggy Parker, the library director in Perry.
At issue is the Perry Public Library's plan to pave a new parking lot.
"We did not have any safe accessible parking. There's parking out front; it's a busy street,” Parker said.
Library officials did not want to pave upon their own land, believed to be an ancient cemetery, so to avoid paving over graves, the library purchased an adjoining parcel for a ten-car lot.
"I hope that the history of this place finally, as a cemetery, can be respected,” Grieve said.
But some say the cemetery stretches here, too.
"They've changed where they're going to have this parking lot so many times,” said Grieve.
Grieve points to new evidence found just this spring in a nearby ravine.
"I know the children found these things in the outlet,” she said. “This particular stone is the stone of Elijah Bill; he was a Revolutionary War veteran who died in Perry. There is a letter in the county historian's office that says his stone was supposed to be moved to Hope. Instead of moving it to Hope, they just threw it over the outlet."
Grieve believes Elijah's and other bodies may stretch as far as 15 feet onto the adjoining land. Grieve has a lawsuit in court to block the parking lot's construction.
Meanwhile, across the way, another group of protesters is kicking up dust, over a dusty demolition of the house that once stood here. Protesters claim it is contaminating the air.
"There's several people that have pictures and also video of the men standing on the roof of the house with push brooms, pushing the dust off the roof and everything flying this way,” said Booth.
Melanie Booth lives next door. Her fear:
"That my family's breathing in the asbestos that I was told this house contained."
Even if it doesn't have asbestos in it, Melanie was told her house, her property, would be protected from all that mess flying through the air. It clearly has not.
Demolition company Metro Environmental provided pages of documents showing asbestos-ridden material was properly disposed of. Other materials like roofing, they say, had only traces of asbestos, and not dangerous amounts.
But as far as the dust:
"Any time you have movement, you're going to have some dust. You know, we can't get every speck of dust,” said Harold Hibbard, president of Metro Environmental.
Melanie contact Metro Environmental, but has not received any calls.
All of this commotion over a proposed ten-car parking lot, and the Perry Public Library is caught in the controversial middle.
"I think what bothers me the most is the reputation Perry must be getting out of this. We're a very pleasant town, we have a lot of things going on here. It's a wonderful place to live, and… this is very distressful,” Parker said.
Library officials say the project is still moving forward despite the controversy, pending an environmental review from the village.