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Queens Chronicle

Koslowitz: Rego Pk. Library coming soon

Tells CB 6 groundbreaking by end of ’21; says jail deal prevents ‘a disaster’

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Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2019 10:30 am | Updated: 12:25 pm, Thu Oct 24, 2019.

Rego Park residents can expect the long awaited reconstruction of the community’s library to start soon — well, at some point before 2022 at least. Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) told those at Community Board 6’s monthly meeting last Thursday that she’s been reassured that’s at least the idea.

“They have committed to me that the library groundbreaking is going to happen before I retire,” said Koslowitz, who will be ineligible to run in 2021 due to term limits. “It’s going to happen.”

The councilwoman has been calling for a new Rego Park Library, at 91-41 63 Drive, since the 1990s and in 2017 Mayor de Blasio finally announced that the old structure would be torn down to make way for a state-of-the-art, $32 million branch.

“For years, maybe 15, 20 odd years, we’ve been fighting,” CB 6 District Manager Frank Gulluscio said. “Yet we keep reading about every other library in every community going up and expanding out ... We’ve been very upset through the years.”

Even with de Blasio’s announcement two years ago, progress at the site has been slow. While Koslowitz was unable to give a target date for a groundbreaking, the fact that it will happen soon gave her some relief, she said.

Despite that, Gulluscio and other CB 6 officials wanted to keep funding for the new branch as the board’s No. 1 priority for capital expenses in the next fiscal year. The councilwoman, though, said all funding for the project has been secured.

“If you have another priority that’s important, I would perhaps make that No. 1,” she told the board. Gulluscio said the city is in the “investigation phase” of the construction, which will determine how the new structure will be built at the site. He said it would result in some traffic problems in the area.

“We will have heartburn when they start the building,” he said, “but who cares? We’ve been waiting all these years.”

The library wasn’t the only incoming structure Koslowitz spoke on at the meeting, as she also took the time to defend her support of the proposed Kew Gardens jail.

“If I did not support that, the mayor could do whatever he wanted to do,” she said.

For her support, Koslowitz said, the mayor has promised a bundle of incentives for the area, including eight new officers for the 102nd Precinct, which patrols Kew Gardens; renovations to area schools; and upgrades to the kitchen at Queens Community House’s Kew Gardens senior center. She was also able to cut the jail’s height from 27 stories to 20.

“I had to support it, and make sure it didn’t become a disaster,” she said.

The jail will be built at the old House of Detention in Kew Gardens, remodeled with newer jail cells and a tunnel connecting it to Queens Supreme Court, thereby not letting suspected or convicted criminals outdoors.

The City Council’s Land Use Committee last Thursday essentially assured the plan to close Rikers and open four borough-based jails in each borough except Staten Island would go through when it passed a resolution barring the use of Rikers Island for any detention center after the end of 2026.

In other CB 6 news, the board unanimously passed a resolution to co-name the section of Fleet Street adjacent to the Forest Hills Little League field in honor of Abe Miller, a driving force behind the league for close to 50 years who died earlier this year.

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