BY JON CRONIN
The rendering for the Richmond Hill Library renovation was unveiled at Community Board 9’s Tuesday meeting. The project is expected to take more than a year and a half.
Richard Tobin, the renovation’s manager, said that the project “will be a full-gut renovation” and likely start in March 2018, which is sooner than previously announced.
The nearly $9 million project is funded through allocations by the mayor’s office, City Council and state Senate and Assembly.
He noted that the historic nature of the library, located at 118-14 Hillside Ave., which was built in 1905, will be respected and the revamp will “bring the 1905 look back to the community.” A mural painted in the library in the 1920s will also be preserved.
The renovation will include a new ADA-compliant ramp as well as an elevator, HVAC system, new furniture, shelving, a new check-in and check-out system and computer equipment. The interior will be gutted and replaced.
The new outdoor area of the library will be more reflective of its neighborhood’s garden-like atmosphere. The wheelchair ramp will become more aesthetically pleasing and have a wider path at a 5-percent grade with lights and plantings.
Tobin noted that the building will be a certified Silver LEED project, which means that it will be certified by the federal government as a highly energy-efficient building.
Seth Wellins, a CB 9 member, asked Tobin why the empty storefronts near the library were not considered as temporary homes for the library while it is under construction. Wellins was hoping that spaces such as those, which are larger than a trailer, would serve the community better during construction projects that run longer than expected.
Tobin noted that such an endeavor would add time and money to an extensive and costly project. He said that for library projects in which he has been involved in the past, renting space can add up to an extra $1 million.
“It would be money that is not going into the library,” he said.
He also noted that extra time would have been spent negotiating a lease through the city’s Department of Buildings and designing a temporary location.
According to the Maple Grove Historical Society, the library was built with a $35,000 donation from world-famous industrialist Andrew Carnegie and designed by architectural firm Tuthill and Higgins. The land was donated by the Man family. The library kept a Spanish-style roof until 1929, when it was expanded.