A little more than a year after Borough President Melinda Katz removed six members of the Queens Library’s Board of Trustees after they supported retaining CEO Tom Galante amid controversy that he misspent library funds, Katz appears to have regained some faith in the organization.
The borough president announced this week an allocation of $14 million of her Fiscal Year 2016 discretionary capital funds for important expansions, renovations and technology across 12 library branches throughout the borough.
“The millions of families who rely on the Queens Library services deserve nothing less than a world-class library system,” Katz said in a statement. “The Board of Trustees – which the Mayor and I reformed in 2014 thanks to prompt state legislation – continues to move the Library in the right direction consistent with its educational purpose. This capital allocation will help ensure the Queens Library branches remain up-to-date and better able to serve its educational purpose as a community hub of learning, literacy and culture.”
According to Katz’s office, the $14 million includes:
$3.8 million for the expansion of the Arverne branch
$3.5 million for interior renovations at Baisley Park
$96,000 for security cameras at Bay Terrace
$500,000 for the upgrading of the HVAC system, and $65,000 for security cameras, both at Douglaston/Little Neck
$81,000 for security cameras at East Flushing
$2.75 million for a second elevator at the Flushing branch
$800,000 for to replace the Ozone Park branch’s roof
$78,000 for security cameras at Rosedale
$2.2 million for exterior façade and multi-purpose room renovations at St. Albans
$81,000 for security cameras at South Ozone Park
$95,000 for security cameras at Steinway, and
$122,000 for security cameras at the recently-renovated Woodhaven branch.
“Queens Library greatly appreciates the investment Borough President Katz is making in library infrastructure and technology,” Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said in a statement. “Creating inviting, inspiring spaces and keeping our library buildings in a state of good repair protects the resources our community libraries offer, and ensures a welcoming and secure environment for millions of customers.”
In the wake of scandal last year, in which Galante and other senior library staff were accused of using the organization’s funds for lavish dinners and renovations for Galante’s personal office, the library has been under a criminal probe by the FBI and an audit from City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office. The Board of Trustees refused to remove Galante as president in early 2014, and Katz successfully sought a change in state law to allow her to remove members appointed by the borough president. She did, removing six members who supported Galante, and named new members who voted to oust him.
Stringer’s audit, in his words, “raised questions” about the involvement of Quinn-Carey, though he and other officials lauded her for forcing out several other top library officials earlier this year.