Representatives from the Queens Library and Department of Design and Construction (DDC) gathered at the New York Irish Center in Long Island City on Wednesday night to update residents on the construction of the new 22,000-square-foot library at Hunters Point.
Located at Center Boulevard and 48th Avenue, right next to Gantry Plaza State Park, the library is set to be completed in winter 2017. Larry Lafargue, external affairs representative at the DDC, said the agency has been working “expeditiously” to complete the project and, barring any bad weather, DDC will adhere to its timeline.
“We certainly feel very confident that we will be able to hit that target date,” Lafargue said. “However, we also have to keep in mind, too, that mother nature at times can bring us some things that we do not expect and so that certainly plays a role as well.”
Tood Alexander, senior project manager, said that all the underground utility wiring has been installed and the first-floor walls will be erected in December. The $29,690,346 project will include 5 1/2 floors that will resemble individual terraces, a community room on the first floor that holds around 120 people, a computer floor and a cafe, as well as a small rooftop reading garden.
Library patrons will also be able to take out and return books through a self-check-in and check-out system on the first floor.
The most significant change in the plan is the exclusion of the reflecting pool at the courtyard near Gantry Plaza State Park. Instead, the space will be filled with small tables and chairs. The floor will be constructed from pieces of cobblestone and pavement with varying heights and shapes, according to Alexander.
Mark Christie, president of Friends of Hunters Point Library, noted that it was important that the building have a skateboard deterrent. The cobblestone will make it impossible for skaters to use the area, Alexander said.
“We see these big men jumping all over strange places,” Christie said. “They use [public spaces] as a ramp. We never know what they could use.”
The original design also included side doors for the community to have access to the meeting room after-hours but that was scrapped from the plan. Larry Gallegos, community affairs manager for the Queens Library, said he will work with the community on a case-by-case basis to keep the library open for meetings. Gallegos said other libraries have kept their doors open as late as 10 p.m. for certain meetings.
Debra Miller, a Long Island City resident who lives on Center Boulevard, said she is excited for the opening of the library and noted the increasing demand for the space. The closest library is the Queens Library at Court Square at 25-01 Jackson Ave.
“As a relatively new member of the community and having been involved with the [Friends of Hunters Point Library] this summer with the popup library, a lot of people in the community are ecstatic there is such a demand for it,” Miller said. “There were so many people coming to that popup library we had this summer on Saturdays for a few hours.”