By Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech
A staple in the Astoria community will now receive the renovations it deserves.
City Councilman Costa Constantinides announced Dec. 14 that he secured $3.25 million in additional funds for the renovation of Queens Library’s Astoria branch from City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
This is a third wave of funding secured by the Constantinides, who allocated $300,000 from the Participatory Budget in April for a new children’s reading room. In 2017, he secured $3.25 million in funds to renovate the library from then-Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.
In 2014, the city committed $1 million toward library renovations as part of the Astoria Cove plan, totalling over $7 million in overall funds to the library.
“Libraries are a beacon of learning, whether you’re 5 or 95, which is why keeping them up to date is so crucial,” said Constantinides. “Making the Astoria Library better than it has ever been will encapsulate the broader investment we’ve made into the Hallets Cove Peninsula.”
Once the library is fully renovated, it will include a new children’s reading area, a new entrance, elevators, electronic drop-off equipment and “other modern-day technology,” according to a press release from Constantinides’ office.
The branch will also become ADA-compliant throughout its basement, ground and mezzanine levels. According to a representative from the Queens Library, the Astoria branch will also receive new flooring, ceiling, lighting, furniture, paint and equipment.
Politicians and community members alike want to utilize the funds to reinvent the branch into a up-to-date facility that will exemplify the crucial role that libraries play in building communities.
Not only do libraries provide opportunities for learning and advancement out side of schools, “they serve as community spaces where neighborhoods can come together,” according to Johnson.
At 11 years old, Elena Maria Bauer, a lifelong Astoria resident, started going to the libraries, particularly the Steinway branch, to read and escape the bullying she endured from classmates. Gradually, the library transformed from a hideout to a hangout as she made friend after friend who also enjoyed mystery books, video games and art.
“The value and effect it had on my life is incredible,” said Bauer, who remains friends with many of the children she snuck onto unlocked computers and exchanged comic books with to this day.
“They aren’t just book warehouses, they are safe hubs,” Bauer added.
The New York City Department of Design and Construction has yet to respond to TimesLedger with a expected date of completion for the renovations.