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LIC Resident Sues Queens Public Library, Says New $41M Hunters Point Library Not ADA Accessible

Hunters Point Library (Photo: QueensPost)

Nov. 26, 2019 By Allie Griffin

A mobility-impaired Long Island City resident and a non profit organization for the disabled are suing the Queens Public Library, claiming that the new Hunters Point Library is not fully accessible to people with mobility disabilities.

The class action lawsuit, filed today in Brooklyn federal court, claims that the $41 million library violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because it isn’t “fully and equally” accessible to people with disabilities.

Plaintiffs, Long Island City resident Tanya Jackson and the nonprofit Center for Independence of the Disabled – New York (CIDNY), are suing the Queens Borough Public Library, its Board of Trustees and the City of New York to require they create a plan to make the Hunters Point Library fully accessible to people of all abilities.

“The newly-built Hunters Point Library was designed and built with a total disregard for adults and children with mobility disabilities and in flagrant contempt of the legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which took effect in 1992, almost three decades ago,” the lawsuit states.

The suit is based upon Jackson’s personal experience moving around the library building.

Jackson, who uses a rollator and doesn’t own a personal computer, is a frequent library user, according to the court document. When the Hunters Point Library opened this September, she was elated to have a new library just 1.8 miles from her home.

Yet, she was quickly disappointed after visiting the new library a month later. She had to use a steep ramp to get to different levels of the library and was told the rooftop was inaccessible to her and others with mobility disabilities. Now she worries that she will not be able to participate in future events the library hosts because areas of the building are inaccessible to her, the complaint states.

“Because stairs are featured throughout the Library and prevent Ms. Jackson from accessing all the Library’s benefits fully, she feels unwelcome and overlooked by all who had a hand in constructing the new Library,” the lawsuit reads. “She has been harmed, and will continue to be harmed, by Defendants’ ongoing failure to abide by its ADA obligations.”

Several other obstacles exclude people like Jackson from full use of the 22,000-square-foot library’s building, the lawsuit states.

Three levels of the library, as well as the upper level of the rooftop terrace, are only accessible by stairs. Some of the best views of the East River are from the stairs, inaccessible to those with walkers, wheelchairs and strollers.

But one of the largest issues is that there is just a single elevator in the building, which doesn’t stop at every level and has long wait times, according to the complaint.

“It is shocking to me that a brand-new public library would not be fully accessible to people with mobility disabilities like myself,” Jackson said in a statement. “Libraries should welcome everyone, not exclude whole populations of people.”

The Hunters Point Library, which opened several years behind schedule and more than $10 million over budget, has been criticized for its lack of accessibility since it first opened to the public.

A tiered mezzanine between the first and second floor of the building was the subject of criticism in October because it was only accessible by stairs, making it inaccessible to people who use walkers and wheelchairs and have a mobility disability.

Tiered Mezzanine at Hunters Point Library on opening day. The upper tiers can only be reached via the stairs (Queens Post)

The collection of books housed in the mezzanine has since been relocated to other parts of the library as a result of the criticism and the mezzanine is now a dead space where no books are shelved.

The same month, reports of several design flaws, including leaks and cracked floors, were discovered.

“Twenty-nine years after the ADA promised open doors and equal opportunities for people with disabilities, we find the doors of a brand new library shut to children and adults with disabilities,” said Susan Dooha, Executive Director of plaintiff CIDNY. “This should not be allowed to happen. The Queens Borough Public Library and the City of New York must obey the law and make this right.”

The plaintiffs, represented by the nonprofit legal group Disability Rights Advocates, aren’t seeking any monetary compensation, only that the defendants develop and implement a remedial plan to provide equal access to Hunters Point Library.

“This morning we learned that a disability rights organization filed a lawsuit against the Library and the City of New York alleging that Hunters Point is not accessible to people living with disabilities,” said Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokesperson for Queens Public Library. “It is always the Library’s goal to be welcoming, open and available to everyone, including customers with disabilities. We are taking this matter very seriously.”

A spokesperson for the City Law Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hunters Point Library Suit by Queens Post on Scribd

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31 Comments

L. Barbara Nope

Queens Library is the most diabolical, ruthless bunch of bureaucrats I’ve ever seen. They’re like a biker gang, but instead of shotguns and crystal meth, they use political savvy and shushing.

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Erik Baard

It’s worth examining who’s the head of the library division of the NYC Department of Design and Construction. A person who already, to my eyes, lobbied for development on the Gowanus Canal (as opposed to advocating for community space in developments already approved) under the guise of a nonprofit and who launched a slapp lawsuit to try to wrongly hold LIC assets for his nonprofit.

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rgd sunnyside

another classic city money construction grab! where are you boss tweed! trump as much as he’s disliked in nyc he did get the central park ice skating rink built!

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Anonymous

Not crazy about the library as I feel they over did it all around and ended up with a less then practical showpiece. All the time, money, and thought given to the project and they blundered so badly on the accessibility is unbelievable. While I hate our litigious society and sue everyone mentality I can’t blame them on this one.

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Anonymous

What’s up with these trashy comments? Jokes about blind, disabled and Jewish people? Come on now. No need to take the low road on a neighborhood blog to make your opinions heard.

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Anonymous

Sounds like the work of an “ambulance chaser” lawyer. Knowing how these projects work, multiple consultants, lawyers and city officials probably scrutinized the project including the terraced steps for ADA compliance before shovels even entered the ground; so this seems like an unnecessary and heavy handed “gotcha” with little merit. Its a miracle we got a library at all.

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Bob the Builder

What? Sounds like none of that happened. Zero scrutiny more like it.

As noted below this Federal law been on the books since Bush the Elder.

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ASensibleMan

“Jackson, who uses a rollator and doesn’t own a personal computer, is a frequent library user, according to the court document.”

So buy her a computer. It would be a lot cheaper.

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Agreed, we should buy everyone that can't use a library a computer

I don’t think you even understand what this article is about, as usual

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LIC Resident

How did this plan get approved by the Department of Buildings? It only took more than a decade. What ere the architects thinking? Even if there was no Americans with Disabilities Act. A public library is supposed to be for every one in the community.

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Liberty = Equality

Corrupt officials that only care about themselves. All New Yorkers seem to want is more and more government, but the government consistently fails the people. MTA, public schools, etc etc. Real change will happen when New Yorkers realize that the solution to their problems is free enterprise and smaller government and not putting people in power who write burdensome or unenforceable laws.

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Not all Nyers are the same

This is a pretty ignorant comment. New Yorkers are not monolithic. The notion that we all want more and more government is ignorant at best.

The MTA was formed because the private subway companies went bankrupt.

Public schools, while not perfect, have provided many with an educational foundation to lead productive lives. I know several successful people educated in nyc public schools.

While less regulation is welcome, especially by the business community, sometimes regulations are effective in protecting the public.

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Anonymous

Just put up some wooden planks and knock out some does and it’s accessible. Problem solved

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Politicians = Dishonest

Classic NY politicians. When are residents going to realize that their representatives are worthless to them. I think LIC Post buried the lede in this one. This brand new library cost $41m to build. Don’t tell me that no one’s palms were greased or political careers weren’t made by a showpiece like this.

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your_neighbor

The architect needs to lose his/her license over this blunder. What architect doesn’t fully comprehend the ADA requirements in 2019?

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haterwitharollator

brand new library and only complaints! Behind in the unveiling and already a lawsuit. no one is happy in nyc with anything that happens, positive or otherwise.

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LIC resident

I noticed you edited your post. It used to say, Rabinowitz as if it was a Jewish thing. Why did you change your post?

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LIC Direct

Execellent!!!! This building already has cracked concrete, leaky roof, badly designed, much too small elevator, too many steps, dangerous for children, but the biggest flaw, THE BUILDING IS SINKING!!!! A Recreation Center would have been a better fit at half the cost with an indoor Ice Skating Rink/Swimming Pool.

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^foundthefunnyguy

Gotta love a good blind person joke! And you doubled it…with TWO blind people. You’re so clever

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