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Choose your own ending: BPL leaders invite locals to weigh in on $22M reno of New Utrecht branch

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Brooklynites can write the book on this library’s future.

Bensonhurst bibliophiles of all ages and backgrounds can help shape a multi-million renovation of their local New Utrecht Library at an upcoming workshop with chief book lenders, according to a spokeswoman for the borough’s library system.

“Regardless of one’s age or what language a person speaks, he or she will be able to participate,” said Fritzi Bodenheimer. “The workshop is participant-driven and avoids architectural and planning jargon. The feedback will be captured and shared with the architects.”

The March 4 workshop hosted by library leaders at the 86th Street branch between Bay 16th and Bay 17th streets will give locals the chance to share new design and programming ideas for the 62-year-old reading room, which is set for a three-year, $22-million renovation slated to begin in 2021, Bodenheimer said.

Attendees will get to use everyday bric-a-brac — including pipe cleaners, Legos, buttons, Popsicle sticks, and cotton balls — to physically illustrate their visions for the library, according to the spokeswoman, who said the arts-and-crafts projects will inform how designers ultimately reshape the facility’s interior to make space for more public programming, as well as its facade and exterior landscaping, which librarians hope to make more eco-friendly.

The workshop follows a series of community-engagement events with teens, reading-room staff, and do-gooders with the volunteer group Friends of New Utrecht Library, where those locals also weighed in on the branch’s next chapter, Bodenheimer said.

Following the brainstorm, reps for the project’s chosen architect — Manhattan-based Rice and Lipka — will return to the community to present their makeover plan to residents, who will then get more chances to chime in before the redesign is finalized next year, the rep said.

Librarians will shutter the branch for the entirety of its 36-month renovation, according to Bodenheimer, who said all the cash for the job came from capital funding allocated by Mayor DeBlasio, but did not immediately respond to inquiries about what temporary services will be provided to patrons during the closure, or when architects will return to share their initial design scheme with locals.

Share your thoughts on how to renovate the branch at the workshop at the New Utrecht Library (1743 86th St. at Bay 17th Street in Bensonhurst). March 4 at 6 pm.

Reach reporter Julianne McShane at (718) 260–2523 or by e-mail at jmcshane@schnepsmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @juliannemcshane.
Updated 12:28 pm, February 21, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

MJ from Bay Ridge says:
US$22 million can built a brand new state of the art library - but it seems to be way to much for renovation. (note the Hunter Point Library in Long Island City costs US$31 million)
Feb. 21, 3:10 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
The New Utrecht Library was last renovated in 2016
Feb. 21, 4:50 pm
MJ from Bay Ridge says:
The BPL should consider to rebuild the McKinley branch in Dyker Heights. It is so small and overcrowded all the time.
Feb. 21, 4:54 pm
Mathematician from Brooklyn says:
This makes the $72 million to renovate the three stations on the R line look cheap.
Feb. 22, 10:47 am

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