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LIC celebrates site for library due in ‘15

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (c.) helps girls from PS 78 plant trees for the dedication of the site for a new library coming to Hunters Point.
TimesLedger Newspapers

The Hunters Point’s library will not be open until 2015, but at the dedication ceremony for its site Friday, Queens Library and elected officials spoke as if they had reached the end of a long journey.

“There are few projects that I care about and have been involved with longer than this one,” said City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), the former chief of external affairs for Queens Library.

The library set for construction at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue has been a community dream for about 14 years. Former Councilman Edward Sadowsky said the first people to move into Hunters Point, of which he was one, felt the burgeoning neighborhood suffered from not having a library.

For more than a decade, the community wrote petitions and even formed a Friends of the Hunters Point Library, becoming the first of such organizations to be chartered when the physical library had not been built.

“That’s why we’re standing here today,” said Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante. “I could not be prouder to say, ‘You are heard.’”

Sadowsky said the site on which the library will stand was originally planned to hold another multi-story apartment tower, but the developer decided to expand another building instead. Still, even after the site was secured finding funding for the project was difficult.

But now the library has the $28.6 million it needs to build from multiple sources on the federal, state and city levels.

“It’s proof that democracy does work after all,” Sadowsky said.

The library’s plans won an award from the city Design Commission last year. It will be about 21,500 square feet and will feature sections for children, teens and adults and a communal reading garden. Queens Library has also designed its Hunters Point location in hopes of earning a LEED Silver Certification, which will mark it as an environmentally-friendly building.

Hunters Point Library will also have a computer section. U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said this would be a complement to the growing technological community in Long Island City bolstered by the upcoming Technion Cornell Innovation Institute coming to nearby Roosevelt Island.

“It’s always exciting when you announce a new library, but it’s even more exciting when you have the money in place,” Maloney said of the project.

Students from PS 78, across the street from the library site at 48-09 Center Blvd., planted “trees of knowledge” for the site as part of the dedication ceremony.

Borough President Helen Marshall, one of the first supporters of the project, said the Hunters Point Library would make the neighborhood complete and recognized the Queens Library for its hard work.

“In these days of austerity, Tom knows we must pursue our dreams,” Marshall said.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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