July 28, 2015 By Jackie Strawbridge
With a total of $33 million secured for the construction of the Hunters Point Community Library, the long-planned project is starting to rise on the Long Island City waterfront.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer joined community members, library board members and Queens Library Interim President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey at the new branch’s construction site on Tuesday, to announce an additional $3 million secured for the project with the help of Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
Ground broke on the library in May. The final $3 million will go towards the overall cost of the project, including not only building the library but also stocking it with books and furniture.
When complete, the 21,500 square-foot library will sit at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue. Designed by well-known architect Steven Holl, it will feature a rooftop terrace, reading garden, performance space and wide view of the Manhattan skyline.
Library service is expected to begin in 2017.
“The additional $3 million I have secured solidifies our City’s commitment to ensuring this neighborhood has the state-of-the-art, full service library it deserves,” Van Bramer said.
“As the neighborhood continues to grow, this community hub will become a beacon of knowledge and information, expanding access to generations of Long Island City’s residents.”
“This will be an iconic structure on our waterfront and the crown jewel in the Queens Library system that will be one of the greatest assets in our burgeoning community,” Friends of Hunters Point Library president Mark Christie said. “The people of Hunters Point and Queens will be forever grateful to [Van Bramer and the City Council] for securing all the funds necessary to complete our Queens Library.
The announcement comes on the heels of an investigation into library spending by City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
Early this month, Stringer released findings of an audit and investigation into expenses under former Queens Library CEO Thomas Galante, who was fired in December, months after the Daily News discovered that he had been using library funds as, in Stringer’s words, “a personal piggybank.”
The Comptroller outlined Galante’s prohibited expenses – some of which had already been reported – from $4,700 on a retreat to Connecticut to nearly $2,000 on Maroon 5 tickets.
Stringer’s findings also implicated Quinn-Carey, who served as Chief Operating Officer under Galante. According to the Comptroller’s office, she was found to have incurred thousands in prohibited expenses; she may also owe taxes on $16,000 in credit card charges.
While Van Bramer said he is “obviously concerned” by Stringer’s findings, he added, “I have confidence in the funding that I’m allocating to the library. We’re seeing it rise here – it is being spent appropriately.”
“I am very confident that none of those [spending] activities will ever happen again under the current board,” Van Bramer added. “We have turned the corner on the Queens Library, and it is up to the board of trustees of the Queens Library to choose a new President/CEO.”
Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Borough President Melinda Katz ousted eight Queens Library board members after they voted against firing Galante. They were replaced over the course of the next several months.
A library spokesperson said Quinn-Carey is not commenting on Stringer’s audit and investigation.
Its absurd. This is getting stretched out on purpose so the library could get more money from the state/city. They had some BS ground breaking over a month ago and the site has sat quiet since then. The scope of work is so incredibly simple for the foundation that this thing should be much further along. Instead – politicians hold ground breaking ceremonies and have ribbon cuttings because they need a few more photos to post on their Facebook page. Now that this thing is fully funded and paid for….lets see if we can make some progress folks.
$33mm for 21,500 sq ft is over $1,500 Psf. Only high end condos should cost that much. And I’d bet the $33mm doesn’t include the cost of purchasing the land at market prices, so what gives? The budget should be a third of what it is.
That’s what happens when the city (and the state for that matter) act as a developer. There is no below grade space or superstructure here so I can’t imagine what is costing so much. They are literally building a concrete box. And there is absolutely no way this thing is coming in on budget. I’m taking the over on $38M when all is said and done.