Katz gives $14 million to Queens Library for capital projects

By Madina Toure

In response to reforms by the Queens Library, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has allocated $14 million in funding to 12 branches after rescinding funds last year in light of questionable expenditures by former CEO Thomas Galante.

The funds, which come from Katz’s fiscal year 2016 discretionary funds, include $3.8 million for the expansion of the Queens Library at Arverne, $3.5 million for interior renovations at the branch at Baisley Park, $2.75 million for a second elevator at the Flushing branch and $2.2 million for exterior façade and multi-purpose room renovations at the branch at St. Albans.

“The board of trustees—which the mayor and I reformed in 2014, thanks to prompt state legislation—continues to move the library in the right direction consistent with its educational purpose,” Katz said in a statement. “This capital allocation will help ensure the Queens Library branches remain up-to-date and better able to serve (their) educational purpose as a community hub of learning, literacy and culture.”

Katz did not allocate any capital funds to the library last year, according to Katz’s press officer, Michael Scholl.

Galante was placed on indefinite leave in September for alleged misuse of funds.

Out of the library’s 19 trustee positions, 18 have been filled. All but four appointments are new to the board and five senior managers have resigned. Katz and Mayor Bill de Blasio also removed eight of the 19 trustee members. The ninth one resigned.

An audit recently released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer revealed that both Galante and Interim President Bridget Quinn-Carey made prohibited expenditures.

But since then, the library developed new business-expense and conference-attendance policies and is revising its bylaws.

Katz is also making allocations for security cameras at the libraries: $96,000 for Bay Terrace; $65,000 for Douglaston/Little Neck; $81,000 for East Flushing; $78,000 for Rosedale; $81,000 for South Ozone Park; $95,000 for Steinway and $122,000 for Woodhaven.

She is also allocating $500,000 for the upgrading of the HVAC system at Douglaston/Little Neck and $800,000 for a roof placement at Ozone Park.

Interim President Bridget Quinn-Carey said the library appreciates the investment Katz is making in library infrastructure and technology.

“Creating inviting, inspiring spaces and keeping our library buildings in a state of good repair protects the resources our community libraries offer and ensure a welcoming and secure environment for millions of customers,” Quinn-Carey said in a statement.

Carl Koerner, chairman of the library’s board of trustees, said the funds will enable the library to update its services.

“It will allow the library to substantially upgrade its infrastructure, providing a better environment for library customers,” Koerner said.

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.