Niagara Gazette

November 27, 2012

City library board undergoing changes

By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — The Niagara Falls Library’s Board of Trustees is expanding.

City lawmakers unanimously passed a resolution this week to amend the city charter changing the amount of library board trustees from five to no less than five and no more than nine. The move mirrors changes in the library’s charter made earlier this month.

Falls library Director Michelle Petrazzoulo said the local library system received approval from the state to expand the board in an effort to provide more programming for residents.

“If we have a larger library board, we would have more flexibility in terms of creating subcommittees,” Petrazzoulo said.

She said that a larger board will also allow for a more complete representation of changing demographics in the city.

“We want to have a good representation of the ethnicities and backgrounds of the city so that we can best serve the public,” Petrazzoulo said. 

Council Chairman Sam Fruscione said the council consulted with New York state and city attorneys before making the amendment to the charter. He said the change is expected to help the library board be more productive as, in the past, the board was not always able to secure attendance from enough trustees to have a quorum needed to legally take action.

“They can find more members to attend on a regular basis to form a quorum,” Fruscione said. “That was one of the difficulties they were having.”

The council also approved Mayor Paul Dyster’s appointment of Noreen K. Hill to the library board. The board denied Dyster’s last appointment of College Avenue resident James Lemke, who is white, because the council majority is seeking a more diverse library board.

The council majority - Fruscione,Councilman Robert Anderson Jr. and Councilman Glenn Choolokian - blocked another Dyster appointment earlier this year, denying one-time council candidate Alicia Laible, who is also white.

Fruscione said that Hill, who is Native American, was a great choice to replace Robert Restaino, whose seat had been vacant since the first of the year when he resigned.

“He made a good decision to put a Native American on there, a very good decision,” Fruscione said. “The Native American population continues to grow in Niagara Falls.”

Dyster said that Hill was on a list of suggested appointees provided by the city council.

“I interviewed Noreen and she seemed like a good choice,” Dyster said.

The mayor will continue to interview possible board members, he said.

“I’m going to nail down these other available appointees and, at the earliest possible convenience, fill the vacancies created by the expansion of the board,” Dyster said.

Petrazzoulo also said she was very pleased with the Dyster’s appointment. And she hopes that he keeps at it.

“We were at a dangerously low number of board members,” Petrazzoulo said. “Hopefully the mayor will appoint some more.”