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Queens Chronicle

Briarwood to get new library ... eventually

City to meet with electeds and civics to discuss details this fall: Lancman

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Posted: Thursday, September 22, 2016 10:30 am

The small, aging Briarwood branch of the Queens Library is “woefully inadequate” when it comes to efficiently serving the community, according to Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows.)

That’s why, even though the idea hasn’t been fleshed out yet, the lawmaker is enthusiastic about plans to build a new neighborhood library branch within the next decade.

“Most definitely the library is overwhelmed,” Lancman told the Chronicle on Tuesday. “The population of Briarwood has exploded and people rely on that library for a range of things.”

The proposal was first announced by the Briarwood Community Association in its September newsletter, which said the Queens Library has included it in its most recent 10-year capital plan.

According to the BCA, the structure will be 18,000 square feet compared to the existing one’s 7,500, with the $32 million project slated to begin in 2020.

“Few details and actual construction plans go beyond at the moment,” the newsletter reads. “However, since the existing library consists of 7,500 square feet with little physical space for expansion, it may be assumed that a new 18,000 square-foot building will be multi-storied.”

Queens Library spokeswoman Elisabeth de Bourbon confirmed the new facility is in the 10-year capital plan in a Wednesday phone interview.

“It’s a hypothetical right now,” she said, “but it’s something we would love to get done.”

According to the organization’s website, however, the Queens Library is in the midst of procuring a contractor for $746,000 worth of repair work on the building’s roof and exterior walls. That project is expected to be completed next fall.

Both the BCA and Lancman said the first hurdle to jump over is getting the project funded, something the lawmaker said will be discussed at a meeting this fall with the Queens Library, Borough President Melinda Katz’s office and other stakeholders.

“Right now, this is just aspirational,” he said. “We’re going to see this fall how much meat we can put on those bones. But as of now, it’s just something we have to sit down and talk about.”

De Bourbon said talks are imminent.

“We are going to have that conversation with them very soon,” she said. “Definitely within the next few weeks.”

The BCA said getting a new library has been one of its top priorities for over a decade, while Lancman added he frequently hears from constituents asking for a better place to read and learn.

“It’s been a very high priority for Briarwood for a long time,” the politician said, “but it’s very expensive. We’ve got to get it in the queue.”

When it comes to either finding a new plot of land for the library or renovating the existing structure, Lancman said he would be fine with either, adding that there’s room to expand both upward and downward.

“If the Queens Library presented us with a plan to expand the current library, I wouldn’t say no,” he said. “If it were to grow to a two-floor library, there’s plenty of space for that. There’s also space south of the library down Main Street.”

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