By Gabriel Rom
After years of pushing city and elected officials for upgrades to the Rego Park branch of the Queens Library, community leaders in central Queens have grown impatient.
The current Rego Park branch, at 91-41 63rd Drive, has approximately 7,500 square feet of space and served 184,000 people last fiscal year, according to Jonathan Chung, the Director of Government Affairs for Queens Library.
“The library is not much larger than a fast-food restaurant and it’s serving tens of thousands of people in this neighborhood,” said Peter Beadle, a community activist and member of Queens Community Board 6. “That just doesn’t make any sense.”
Beadle said that as Rego Park continues developing, significant strain is being put on the library, which was built in 1975 and has never been expanded.
“This isn’t a new thing,” he said. “As developmental pressures continue to increase in the neighborhood and all along the Queens corridor, they have to be met with improvements in resources. The library has been overextended for years, and it’s only going to get worse.”
The library is used by local schoolchildren to do their homework and is also a place where adults come to do resumé work, use resources to find jobs and take classes in language proficiency.
“We’re at a standstill,” said Frank Gulluscio, district manager of Community Board 6.
Gulluscio, who will testify Monday during a public hearing on Queens budget priorities, said he has been advocating for upgrades to the library for over a decade. He said Borough President Melinda Katz and Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills) have allocated money for a library expansion, but that it’s not nearly enough. According to Chung, $6.35 million has been set aside for the expansion of the Rego Park Library by Koslowitz and the Queens borough president’s office.
One proposed solution floated is to use space inside the Rego Center Mall for the library, while another option is to renovate and expand the existing library, but there may be structural problems with the plan and it would leave the community without a library for years.
“We don’t have a whole lot of empty lots, we have to look at alternatives,” Gulluscio said. “Is that build up? East? South? North? West?”
“Something has to be done, it’s not fair to kids and the population that uses the library.”
Reach reporter Gabriel Rom by e-mail at grom@