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Two-months late and an incline short: BPL’s Pacific branch reopens without promised entrance ramp • Brooklyn Paper

Two-months late and an incline short: BPL’s Pacific branch reopens without promised entrance ramp

Stacks on stacks: Library leaders reopened the Pacific Library on Aug. 13 after months of renovations.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

This ramp is overdue!

Book-lenders reopened Brooklyn Public Library’s Pacific branch on Aug. 13, roughly two months behind their expected deadline — and without the ramp they promised stroller-pushing parents and disabled residents they’d install to ease access to the stacks as part of a recent makeover.

A library spokeswoman told this newspaper in March that workers would install a temporary ramp before the branch’s project finished, but bigwigs changed their minds mid-renovation, according to another rep, who said they chose to postpone the ramp work until they completed the rest of the job, and will now put the incline in sometime this fall.

“A custom, temporary ramp will be installed this fall,” said Fritzi Bodenheimer.

The rest of the Fourth Avenue branch on the border of Park Slope and Boerum Hill, however, now looks almost as good as it did back when it opened in 1904 with funds from steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, according to a longtime patron who popped by after the touch-ups.

“It looked the same to tell you the truth,” said Flatbush resident Wilcky Lascaze, who stopped by the Pacific branch for a meeting last week, and used to peruse its shelves as a high-schooler about a decade ago. “It looked decent.”

Library honchos spent just under $600,000 on the renovations, which included updating the floor and ceiling of its auditorium and applying fresh coats of paint, as well as installing new air-conditioning and projection systems, lighting, signs, and outlets, according to Bodenheimer, who said the job’s cost ballooned from an originally estimated $250,000 due to unplanned repairs, such as the fixes to the auditorium ceiling that she said was near collapse.

Book-lenders still don’t have the millions of dollars Bodenheimer said are necessary to install a permanent ramp or to fully overhaul the ancient stacks — which the Brooklyn Paper helped save from the wrecking ball in 2013 after officials floated plans to sell the building to a developer and relocate the branch to a more-modern facility.

But library leaders will conduct an assessment of the branch now that the minor renovations are complete to determine how much cash they need to execute the more-comprehensive updates, and when they can be made, according to Bodenheimer, who did not specify a budget or timeline for the improvements.

Last year, however, a reading-room rep told this newspaper that bigwigs collected around $3.5 million for permanent accessibility improvements at the Pacific branch, but still needed to secure some $10 million for unmet capital needs, and couldn’t say how long it would take to raise those funds.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.
Check out a book: Library bigwigs opened the Pacific branch on Fourth Avenue on Aug. 13.
Photo by Caleb Caldwell

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