BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
A new chapter has begun for the Hunters Point Library.
After nearly two decades of planning and fundraising, construction is slated to begin on the Borough’s newest Queens Library branch as early as this spring.
Elected officials, Queens Library representatives and a throng of community members gathered at the library site – Center Boulevard and 48th Street – to announce the plan and celebrate those who have championed this library.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who has been involved in the project since his time as chief external affairs officer at the Queens Library, called the Hunters Point Library “the single most important thing that I believe we have been able to accomplish since I’ve been a council member.”
“For so many folks here who may have thought, ‘is it really ever going to happen?’ Today we’re here to say, ‘it is, it’s happening, it’s real.’ This is a huge, huge victory,” Van Bramer said.
Plans to break ground on the Hunters Point Library – which was designed by prominent architect Steven Holl – were halted in early 2014 after construction bids came in over budget.
The building design was subsequently retooled to bring costs down, which included switching from a geothermal to traditional heating system and from an aluminum exterior to a painted cement exterior.
Among the amenities that will be available to Hunters Point Library patrons are a reading garden, a rooftop terrace, performance space and a children’s area.
Ultimately funding for the nearly $30 million project came from myriad sources, with $10 million from the Port Authority constituting the bulk, $3.5 million from the Queens West Development Corporation, $2 million from the Empire State Development Corporation and allocations from local officials.
“You’ve all heard the expression, ‘it takes a village.’ Well, it took more than a village and a community, it took a State, a City, to come together on this project,” Queens Library interim president Bridget Quinn-Carey said.
Mark Christie is president of the Friends of the Hunters Point Library, which is the only Queens Library friends group created for a nonexistent library branch.
“It’s a little emotional for me because it’s been a long time coming,” Christie said. “It will inspire people in this neighborhood to come together and to enrich their minds.”
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.