The Brooklyn Public Library announced plans to sell the Brooklyn Heights branch building to developers that would help pay for major renovations to the library, but also add residential units to the site.
The controversial building project, presented to the public last month, is still in the early stages and has to go through a hearing and public review process for approval. However, early details of the proposal include new apartments, moving the Business Library to the Central Library in Prospect Heights.
The library would provide a temporary location for the Brooklyn Heights library during the construction, that is planned to begin in about two years.
Brooklyn Heights branch Library Information Supervisor Uldis Skrodelis said he is excited for the major changes coming to one of the largest branches in Brooklyn, which he says would benefit the community and pay for the much needed renovations to the 55-year-old building.
“We have to form a partnership with developers to be able to provide a brand new library building for all of Brooklyn,” said Skrodelis. “You can try to patch it up here and there, but at this point that would be throwing the money away, wasting it. The real solution is a new facility, with the remarkable new library technology. I am very exited with the plan.”
He noted that recently a water pipe broke in the ceiling in the children’s section, which is just one of the many problems facing the decrepit building. Altogether, the branch needs to fork over $9 million to pay for repairs, including an estimated $3.5 million to replace the air conditioning system - too much money for the Brooklyn Public Library to finance on its own.
The announcement spurred concerns from the community that children services would be affected during the construction, and some did not like the plans to sell the building to private developers.
Some people, however, conceded that at least they would not lose the library permanently.
“It’s a shame that have to work with a developer and bring apartments, but that would be better that not having a library at all,” said Emily Klein of Cobble Hill.
Library officials assured the project would not reduce services.
“We are going to make every attempt to maintain normal level of service while the construction is taking place,” Skrodelis said. “We will not be abandoning children services.”