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Pilot program may open Flower library on Sundays

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For years, Flower Memorial Library has remained dark on Sundays, despite repeated requests from its patrons to open the facility seven days a week.

But that is expected to change while the city tries a pilot program to open the library on Sundays this fall.

If it works out, the Sunday hours would become permanent, said Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns, who has helped spearhead the efforts for more library hours. The city plans to open the library from noon to 5 p.m. during the pilot program that runs from Oct. 7 until Nov. 25.

“We’re going to see if there is need and to see if it’s something we want to continue,” Ms. Burns said Sunday.

The Watertown City Council will discuss the pilot program at tonight’s meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. in the third-floor council chambers at City Hall, 245 Washington St.

The city’s employee union, however, may remain a stumbling block. The city still needs to negotiate with the union to reach an agreement on Sunday hours, Ms. Burns said.

In the meantime, library Director Barbara J. Wheeler has volunteered to work on those eight Sundays, Ms. Burns said. The city will also advertise for two temporary library clerk positions needed to make the extended hours happen, Ms. Burns said. The city would pay them $14 an hour.

For the past couple of years, council members have been working on adding the Sunday hours, but the union has been unwilling to negotiate the issue in the employee contract. As part of a previous extension plan, the library already added Wednesday night hours and has been open Saturdays this summer.

During budget sessions last spring, Councilwoman Teresa R. Macaluso and Councilman Joseph M. Butler Jr. lobbied to implement a pilot program.

The library board requested the city hire two clerical workers at a cost of nearly $88,000 to allow the library to open Sundays. The library board also wanted to add as much as $37,000 in city funding for contracted part-time security.

Library officials cited occasional vandalism, minor criminal incidents and erratic patron behavior when requesting hiring a private firm to provide security four or five hours a day. It would add to the security cameras already in the building and a city police officer who walks through the building daily.

The library expects to receive a final report on the security issue next week, according to a memo prepared by Elliott B. Nelson, the assistant to the city manager.

In other business, council members are also expected to get an update on the thefts of money, cellphones and other possessions that went missing from the visiting team’s locker room during Saturday night’s Watertown Red and Black football game at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.

The thefts were discovered at halftime when Albany Metro Maller players entered the locker room. City police officers were called to investigate.

The Albany team, which led 13-7 at halftime, did not return to the field, and the game was suspended.

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