In it, she addresses her take on “innovative solutions to help us provide the service Brooklynites deserve” by “constructing a new, modern branch in Brooklyn Heights.” The entirety of her letter follows:
As you may be aware, public service at the Brooklyn Heights branch was crippled last summer by an unexpected failure of the building’s air conditioning system, resulting in sporadic closures. In order to ensure consistent service this coming summer, starting July 1 and expected to end August 30, the Brooklyn Heights Library will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. After Labor Day, branch hours should return to normal.
While reduced summer hours are not a long-term solution, the schedule is designed to allow us to keep our doors open and avoid the intermittent closures that occurred last year due to problems with the HVAC system, a system that requires a $3.5 million overhaul.
Unfortunately, BPL faces a staggering $230 million in deferred maintenance across the 60 neighborhood libraries (including $9 million in capital repairs needed at Brooklyn Heights Library), but has received $15 million per year on average from the City to address these needs. The current situation is unsustainable. The time has come for innovative solutions to help us provide the service Brooklynites deserve.
To address the problems at the Brooklyn Heights Library, we hope to build a new branch on the existing site on Cadman Plaza. Our project involves selling the property and working with a private developer to build a new facility as part of a larger building, at no cost to BPL or taxpayers.
Based on our plan, we hope to:
• Construct a new, modern branch in Brooklyn Heights. The new neighborhood branch will still be a public facility, owned by the City and operated by BPL, as are most of our libraries. It will be comparable in size to the publicly accessible portion of the current branch and will remain one of the largest branches in BPL’s system. The Business & Career Library, currently located within the same building, will move to BPL’s Central Library on Grand Army Plaza.
• Take advantage of the value of property in the neighborhood to deliver a new branch in Brooklyn Heights without diverting funding from other parts of Brooklyn. We receive far too little money to properly maintain our buildings. This plan allows us to provide the library service Brooklyn Heights needs without taking money from other neighborhoods.
While we are excited about starting to work on our new Brooklyn Heights branch, we recognize there are some questions about our plans. Please understand:
• This project is a response to the serious issues facing the Brooklyn Heights building that leverages the unique value of the building’s location.
• BPL is not closing the Brooklyn Heights Library. In fact, we are developing a plan to build a new, better, more modern library of comparable size to the public portion of the current branch, so that we can serve the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood for generations to come.
• BPL does not plan to reduce hours at the Brooklyn Heights Library beyond the summer. We will implement shortened hours for the summer, running only from July 1-August 30, after which normal operations will resume.
• BPL will not eliminate service in Brooklyn Heights at any time during the project. We will remain in the existing building until construction begins, and at that time will relocate our services and staff to a temporary space in the neighborhood.
The process to develop our new Brooklyn Heights Library will be complex and take years to complete. We have formed a Community Advisory Committee comprised of key community stakeholders and local elected officials who will meet regularly. We will also present the plan at other meetings, including at the Community Board 2 meeting on April 24. Please visit our Brooklyn Heights Library webpage for continued updates.
I will send periodic emails about where we are in the public approval process and you can, of course, ask any of our branch librarians for more information. Additionally, you can email any questions or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We look forward to continuing to work with the community to provide Brooklyn Heights with the best possible library service.