In a widening rift between Edgartown leaders and the nonprofit Edgartown Library Foundation, the town library trustees voted Tuesday to ask the foundation to cease and desist fundraising for the library, and to remove the Edgartown library image and information from its website.
“They are no longer, in my opinion, supporting the library or doing any service to the library whatsoever, and because of that I’d like to make sure . . . that any reference to [the Edgartown Library Foundation] is removed from our website,” library trustee Julie Lively said.
The trustees took the action about a week after Edgartown selectmen questioned the foundation, a nonprofit entity formed in 2004 to raise money for Edgartown’s new library project, about whether they would give the town about $175,000 in money raised for the project. Foundation members said they had conditions that needed to be met and concerns about the project completion. At this Monday’s selectmen meeting, the board voted to refer the matter to town counsel for advice.
At their meeting Tuesday, the town library trustees voted to send a letter asking that the foundation no longer raise money in the name of the Edgartown Public Library, and that they cease using images of the library, references to the library, the library’s phone number and the library’s seal on the foundation’s website. They also asked that the foundation turn over the $175,000 raised for the library.
The trustees, an elected body, voted to open a separate account for fundraising for the library, and will appoint a board at a later date to run the fund.
An $11 million project to build a new library at the site of the old Edgartown School is on the drawing board, with funding in place from a state grant and the town.
“I think it’s time for us to come together and be strong and show a front that we’re protecting this building,” said cochairman Deanna Ahearn-Laird. She said the time had come to “clarify and publicly distance ourselves from what’s going on between the selectmen and [Edgartown Library Foundation].”
She said the foundation should be thanked for their efforts and things that they’ve given the library “that are tangible.”
One of the sticking points between the foundation and selectmen was whether naming rights for the new library would be available for donors. The selectmen have said they are against that idea, as the library will be mostly funded by taxpayers. The trustees said they have the same opinion.
“The trustees are not behind nor do we approve of any naming opportunities at this time,” Ms. Ahearn-Laird said.
Trustees noted that the relationship between their board and the foundation had broken down, and that with trustees no longer attended foundation meetings. Other noted members of the public have become confused and concerned about donating to the library project.
“The foundation has done the project a serious disservice by making it appear in public that we’re not properly funded,” trustee Carl Watt said. “This building is going to be built.”