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Book worms! Slope library branch to remain closed for at least one more year

The Brooklyn Paper
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A $2-million, two-year renovation of a branch library in Park Slope begun in 2009 will end up taking at least another year — and its cost is no longer even being projected.

City officials blamed the delay on “unforeseen factors” such as greater deterioration at the Brooklyn Public Library branch at Sixth Avenue and Ninth Street, which will now be shuttered until at least the fall of 2012 — three years after the project was announced in August, 2009.

Initially, the city said it simply wanted to make the 1906 library more handicapped-accessible with a new elevator, an outdoor ramp and restrooms. But two months later, the budget soared to $2.7 million, and the timeline lengthened to at least two years to include a new air conditioning system and new lighting.

Now, the city won’t even predict what the final cost will be.

Worse, hundreds of readers miss their literary haunt.

“It’s a huge loss,” said Heidi Igoe, a mother of three. “By the time it opens back up, my daughter will have outgrown the benefits of having a library close by.”

The city now says that its initial inspection of the library revealed that “the main floor and its support structure were more deteriorated than expected,” but some neighbors think that’s merely an excuse for poor planning and deadline missing. “Three years is too long,” said parent Matt Longabucco. “This is a public space — it should really be a priority.”

The majestic building was part of Andrew Carnegie’s library philanthropy and includes classic period features such as Doric columns, fireplaces and stained-glass windows.

For years, it was a nexus for storytelling, education and fun, especially for students at PS 39 next door. For many Park Slope parents, it was much more convenient than trekking to the library branch on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights.

But since the construction began, the branch has become an eyesore, with a crumbling facade, boarded-up windows and unkempt grounds. In August, thieves even broke into the site and stole $10,000 worth of window grilles — an indication the city is not properly securing the building.

On a recent Brooklyn Paper visit to the site, construction crews had left the rear gate to the building wide open — across from a youth program at Park Slope United Methodist Church, where some parents said they’re sick of waiting.

“Another year?” said Kim McCreight, a mother and writer. “That’s a big loss; in the winter it’s a real refuge for neighborhood kids.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Design and Construction agreed that the project has been “frustrating,” but added, “When you’re doing construction, you have to deal with the unforeseen.”

Tell that to the kids. On Friday, while walking outside building, Igoe’s young daughter paused and pointed towards the fenced-off book barn.

“Mommy, remember when we used to go there?” she said. “When’s the library going to be open again?”

“Ha.” Igoe said. “Maybe never.”

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Reader Feedback

Jay from Bay Ridge says:
Three year to renovate a library is a laughing stock. People can build a new office tower in Asia in one year.
Oct. 10, 2011, 10:24 am
prillis from PS says:
"“It’s a huge loss,” said Heidi Igoe, a mother of three. “By the time it opens back up, my daughter will have outgrown the benefits of having a library close by.”

right on, heidi. after a certain age, kids age out of libraries. don't need no book learnin when i taint no yungin.
Oct. 10, 2011, 11:11 am
Pete from Ft Greene says:
Are we sure about this? I mean, fact checked. This is a Natalie O'Neall byline, after all...
Oct. 11, 2011, 2:03 pm
JJ says:
"For many Park Slope parents, it was much more convenient than trekking to the library branch on Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights" should probably read the "Central Library at Flatbush and Eastern Parkway in Prospect Heights. It's maybe a 15 minute walk away from 6th Ave/9th Street with storytimes almost every day and a much larger children's collection too.
Oct. 11, 2011, 2:59 pm
jon from park slope says:
So it will take 2 1/2 years to build the Barclays Center-a giant arena- but 3 years to do moderate renovations to an average size branch library. Absurd!! Libraries are are increasingly necessary during down economic times. Wheres politicians like Brad Lander on this?? Does he actually do anything but put out press releases and attend events???


Oct. 11, 2011, 4:42 pm
j says:
Three years to install an elevator, ramp, lighting, air conditioning, and fix the "support structure" for a small building.

Slightly over one year to build the Empire State Building eighty years ago.

Lame.
Oct. 11, 2011, 11:59 pm
Chris from Park Slope says:
Two years was crazy at the begining. As I've walked by over the last two years, when work crews were around, they were very small. Obviously one of the rate limiting steps is the number of worker hours the contractor can put on the job.

They must have one guy working with a hand saw in there. I hope the contractor is getting penalties and won't get anymore work from the city. (I know, I know - I'm dreaming.)
Oct. 12, 2011, 12:15 am
Mafoo from Park Slope says:
This is completely ridiculous. I never see anyone working on this building. I don't know what they're doing on this building but they are not working efficiently.
Oct. 12, 2011, 10:53 am
Scott from Park Slope says:
As everyone has pointed out, 3 years to pour a handicapped ramp and swap out the carpet is beyond ludicrous. Barclays Center started later and will be done before these jackasses are done milking this job.

It's long past time for asses to start getting kicked, hard. That includes all our local pols who run from photo op to photo op, doing absolutely nothing for their constituents.

I would dearly love to take my kids to their local library to instill in them a lifelong love for reading, but I can't.
Oct. 22, 2011, 8:57 pm

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