In early October, a petition was circulated by residents calling for a public referendum to allow the board to spend the funds for the expansion project.
Nearly 450 town residents signed the petition calling for the vote, and on Oct. 15, during a special meeting, the town board wrestled with honoring the petition and putting the project to vote or moving ahead to avoid costly construction delays. In a split decision, the board voted to challenge the petition, which was later upheld as valid in Saratoga County court, forcing this week's public referendum.
Town board members have said if the project isn't approved, the delays will bring significant cost increases.
"The town could stand to pay as much as 10 percent more with every annual delay in the construction work, due to rising materials costs and missing the ideal times for outdoor work," said council member Sue Nolen. "That could mean putting off the project until more funds can be added to the capital account from fees to new developers."
Another tireless proponent of the plan is the town's parks and recreation director, Audrey Ball, who has pointed out the lack of space at the center and its impact on the town's ability to provide programming.
"There has been so much involved in the physical and financial planning for the expansion for the last three years, and it's unfortunate that a great community project that should bring together this town still has politics come into play," said Ball.
In promoting the project, the board also referred to numerous surveys of Malta residents in which a majority supported expanded town library services.
A report prepared by Malta's Library Committee in the summer of 2006 concluded that the current library in the Village of Round Lake is not large enough to serve the growing needs of the entire town. The committee recommended both improvements to the Round Lake Library and construction of a new branch library.