Last Thursday, elected officials announced a $4.1 million renovation of the library to redesign its interior, create new children’s, teens and adult areas, and add more technology to the branch.
Borough President Melinda Katz allocated $1.4 million for the project in next year’s budget, adding to $1.48 million already provided by Councilman Paul Vallone. Katz said at Thursday’s announcement that the project will add new exciting parts to the library.
“It’s also to do things that aren’t as flashy, like a new HVAC system and new roofing, just to make sure we provide the infrastructure necessary for our families who utilize this library on a daily basis,” she said. “This is a project that I know for generations folks will be very proud of.”
Vallone said funding capital improvements for the library was one of the first projects he tackled after he was elected to the City Council. That funding was allocated a few years ago, but Vallone said he soon realized it wasn’t enough.
“Most of the libraries need such an overhaul, especially in our district,” he said. “We have the most libraries in the entire borough of Queens and they have the least amount of funding.”
He said it takes a partnership of elected officials and community leaders to fully fund improvements to parks, libraries and schools. With a park and school nearby, Vallone called the branch the “nexus” in the heart of his district.
“Libraries now, they really are the new community centers of the district,” he said. “Everyone, from kids to adults to seniors, are here more and more.”
The timeline for construction and renovation has not been established yet, according to library officials. Joanne King from the Queens Library said the current Bay Terrace branch may close for more than a year. In the meantime, they’re thinking about setting up an interim location or mobile library to serve customers during construction.
Dennis Walcott, president and CEO of Queens Library, said the Bay Terrace branch was built in 1981, so it was time for an upgrade.
“As we’ve indicated, it’s time for an overhaul,” he said. “The community, while supportive and proud of it, we want to upgrade and improve it.”
Walcott praised the elected officials for their commitment to libraries in Queens, particularly for investing in the extension of six-day service and additional programs. He said now is a critical time for the library’s budget needs.
“We cannot afford to have that rolled back at all,” he said. “We want to build on their work in laying that foundation.”