Queens Public Library working on cracks and leakage at new $41 million Hunters Point branch

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Photo by Mark Hallum

The president of the Friends of Hunters Point Library believes that reports of design flaws at the newly opened waterfront have been overblown.

The $41 million Queens Public Library branch does have multiple cracks on the floors and water leakage in some areas, but when the 60-member group meets in the new building for the first time on Nov. 14, the organization’s leader doubts the flaws will even dominate the agenda.

“I see some issues that are easily resolved but it’s minor stuff,” Friends of Hunters Point Library President Mark Christie said. “The building in still a work in progress because they opened when it was still incomplete so stuff like this was bound to happen.”

Soon after it opened on Sept. 24, a fiction section was found to be inaccessible for the handicapped with no elevator service, only steep staircases, in violation of federal mandates. The books have since been moved to another section of the library.

“Our goal is to be inclusive and welcoming, and to provide opportunity and access to everyone,” Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott said. “As we move ahead with the current and future renovation of libraries in our system, we are going to ensure that all of our customers can fully and safely use our resources. We are focusing on how to meet the needs of all our customers at Hunters Point as we settle into the building and see what is working and what can be improved.”

Library staff recently discovered puddles of water in the children’s area of the building and they noticed the cracks in multiple areas including one that a New York Post reporter said was more than 10 feet long. A QPL spokeswoman said they are working with the city’s Department of Design and Construction to remedy the situation.

“We can confirm there is no water coming from the roof,” Elisabeth de Bourbon said. “DDC determined that water in part of the children’s area was the result of a problem with a ceiling fire sprinkler, which has been fixed. DDC is also engaging its contractor on how to repair the cracks in the floor, as well as addressing punch list items.”

The new branch was plagued by cost overruns, construction delays, an overly grandiose design by Steven Holl Architects and other problems for nearly a decade.

“Hunters Point Library is a unique, visually beautiful building, and our goal is to be inclusive and welcoming and provide safe access to all,” de Bourbon said. “It has drawn more than 30,000 visits since opening day in September, already making it one of the busiest of QPL’s 63 libraries.”

Christie was confident that the necessary fixes are being worked on and that the public will continue to embrace the new addition to the neighborhood.

“To me this is something of a non-issue, but for all the money they spent on this project it should have been a pristine diamond,” Christie said. “That said, it is a beautiful jewel box of a building that has become a beacon for our community.”

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