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Katz touts Jamaica plans at community board meeting

By Patrick Donachie

Borough President Melinda Katz visited Community Board 12’s April meeting to tout the $7 million she has allocated for renovations and expansions to the Baisley Park Community Library.

“The plans to renovate and expand the library are designed to provide a top-notch facility of learning and meet the growing needs of Queens residents, especially our children and seniors,” Katz said during the April 20 meeting at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center at 172-17 Linden Blvd.

The library, at 117-11 Sutphin Blvd., received $3.5 million from Katz in FY 2016 for renovations that would make the facility compliant with the American for Disabilities Act and reopen the building’s atrium for public use. The $3.5 million allocated in FY 2017 will cover the entire cost of a planned 2,000-square-foot expansion.

Community Board 12 covers parts of Jamaica, St. Albans, Hollis, Springfield Gardens and South Ozone Park.

Joanne King, the Queens Library’s director of communications, said the renovations would start in about a year, and the library will be closed for the 12 to 14 months it will take to complete them. King said there would be an alternate area used as a temporary library during construction, though there were no details as of yet. After the renovations, construction would begin on the expansion. Dennis Walcott, the president and CEO of Queens Library, lauded the funding.

“This capital funding will help us move key library projects forward, so the community has expanded, updated facilities for reading and learning,” he said, referring to Katz’s $14 million allocation for the Queens library system.

At the meeting, Katz also marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Jamaica NOW Action Plan that was created to increase housing, transportation and commercial opportunities in the Jamaica area through a series of short-, medium- and long-term goals.

The short-term goals were intended to be completed within three years, and Katz said progress had been made on many of them. She cited the release of an RFP to turn an abandoned NYPD garage on 168th Street into a new mixed-use development, as well as free public Wi-Fi in the Downtown Jamaica corridor. District Manager Yvonne Reddick said she believed the action plan was proceeding as expected.

“I think we all understand and know that it’s going to take time,” she said “There’s a lot of positive projects and we’re looking forward to issues being addressed.”

Other stated short-term goals included more NYPD surveillance cameras in high-traffic areas and money to redesign storefronts for businesses along Sutphin Boulevard. A full list of the action plan’s goals is available on the city Economic Development Corporation’s website.

Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdonachie@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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