Dirty money: Library uses oil spill payout to fund new eco-friendly branch

One for the books: Rendering of the new-look Greenpoing library branch.
Brooklyn Public Library

It takes more than a new library to get in these Greenpointers’ good books.

The Brooklyn Public Library will use money Exxon-Mobil paid out for spilling 30 million gallons of oil into the Newtown Creek to fund its planned $11-million makeover of the Greenpoint branch, but residents say that doesn’t mean they’ll be shelving their anger over the environmental disaster — which some believe is behind the high levels of certain kinds of cancer in the nabe.

“I think it needs to be said that this is happening because so many people died of cancer,” said Williamsburg resident Janice Peterson at a recent Community Board 1 meeting, where the library unveiled the latest designs for the site.

The oil giant shelled out $19.5 million to the community in 2014 for its dirty deeds, and now the library system is using $5 million of that for a massive overhaul of its homely Norman Avenue book-borrowing emporium, while kicking in $6 million of its own funds.

The literary-lending organization plans to tear down the shabby one-story brick building at the corner of Leonard Street some time in the next few months and erect a new structure twice its size, according to a library rep.

The proposed building is intended to be environmentally friendly — despite the filthy lucre funding it — and current designs include a public rooftop park, a rainwater harvesting system, and a dedicated space for community groups to hold environmental workshops and meetings.

The new digs will also house a “teen room” filled with young adult literature and computers in an effort to lure in more young people, said a spokeswoman.

“It’s really important that we draw in teens,” said Ames O’Neill.

Construction will take take 18 months and wrap up in spring of 2018, officials claim — although library renovations have a history of taking much longer than promised. Workers took three years to complete recent overhauls on Fort Hamilton Library in Bay Ridge and the Park Slope Library, instead of the 18 months they were supposed to take.

Reach reporter Madeline Anthony by e-mail at manthony@cnglocal.com or by pnone at (718) 260–8321.
Grazing the roof: Plans for the new-look Greenpoing library include a rooftop park.
Brooklyn Public Library

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