By Bill Parry
The president of the Friends of the Hunters Point Library was stunned when he was told the opening of the state-of-the-art waterfront facility was being pushed back to winter 2017-2018. The nearly $40 million project was originally expected to open in 2014 and has been repeatedly delayed.
“When I first heard the news from Queens Library, I thought I could have gone to Home Depot with $18 million 20 years ago and just built it myself,” Mark Christie said. “People are upset and I can understand that, but this is a situation where it seems we have no choice but to accept another unacceptable situation. Yet another delay.”
The city’s Department of Design and Construction, which is in charge of building the library on Center Boulevard, explained there is a six-week delay in the construction.
“We are currently waiting on a delivery of specialized glass to complete the remarkable Hunters Point Library, which will offer sweeping views of the East River and Manhattan,” said Ian Michaels, the DDC’s spokesman. “We anticipate that DDC will complete construction in September, at which point the building will be turned over the Queens Library for fitting out.”
The special glass was procured from a company in Connecticut. Because of the specialized nature of the glass and limited availability in this country, the glass was fabricated in Germany and is being glazed in Spain, where delivery has been delayed by a strike.
“The delays in building and opening the new $40 million Hunters Point Library are a disgrace,” City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “The Department of Design and Construction has failed to do their job, which is to spend taxpayer dollars wisely and deliver to our community the library it deserves on time. Although I am told the building will be handed over to Queens Library in the summer, I will continue to press DDC on this project as they have proven unable to adhere to time lines they themselves set.”
Van Bramer is the chairman of the Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, as well as majority leader of the City Council.
“Because of this unacceptable delay, and others that happen far too often all over the city, I will hold a hearing to investigate DDC construction delays in the construction of libraries and cultural facilities,” Van Bramer said.
Queens Library spokeswoman Elisabeth deBourbon explained what will occur during the “fitting out” process after DDC finally completes construction.
“Once a temporary certificate of occupancy is issued, we will begin to outfit the building with shelves, computer equipment, books and other materials,” she said. “We expect this to take up to four months.”
In the meantime, Queens Library will continue to offer mobile library service near Gantry Plaza State Park every Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr