Van Bramer Pushes For Library In Hunters Point
At the Long Island City Business Development Corporation April breakfast, City Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer arrived a little late for an address he’d pledged to start at a definite time, indicating that his busy day had already begun. Perhaps inevitably, he said he was pressed for time, since he had to drive to Albany for meetings with legislative figures and then come back for final business in the city that evening. He said the experience of being a city councilmember since becoming one in January was “dizzying”.
Van Bramer is a member of nine council committees and is chairman of the committee for libraries, cultural affairs and international group relations. At least two-thirds of that title appeals to him greatly, given his interest in the arts and his background in the Queens Borough Public Library system. He spoke at the MetLife building in Long Island City, a part of Queens that has long been a commercial and industrial center and which in recent years has become home to several artistic and cultural ventures. He finds no clash between the new uses of Long Island City and the traditional ones. He said that arts organizations represent “a significant investment” both locally and citywide and thanked the businesspersons who sit on their boards. He also thanked City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for having a similar attitude toward arts and business and encouraging his efforts.
He described libraries as “a passion of mine”. Many believe that there is a crying need to build a library in Hunters Point, and certainly room has been made for one, though since funding to build it is lacking, there is at present only the vacant lot where it would stand. An inquirer in the audience asked where the site is, and Van Bramer identified it as Parcel 8 on Center Boulevard at 48th Avenue, near which several high-rise residential buildings have gone up in recent years, with several more to follow. He said the plan is to build a library that is 18,000 to 20,000 square feet in size, at a cost of about $20 million. Hearing of that plan, some have complained that it’s too small, he said; a 30,000-square-foot structure (at a cost of nearly that amount, it is surmised), with splendid appointments, would be more of what the neighborhood deserves. Van Bramer abhors both the absence of the library and waiting for it to be built. He would gladly take a smaller one that might in time be added to. Until it is built, the nearby residents can only look out their windows at the vacant lot and dream of the time when there will be a library with what the councilmember said should be “a stunning view” of the river, the waterside Gantry State Park and the Manhattan skyline.
He said that he and the rest of the council had voted on a “tenuous” budget and he was driving to Albany to see a few legislators and attend a working luncheon. He said that any measure the council adopts is passed on to the state Assembly and senate to be accepted or rejected, so he must occasionally go to Albany and confer on behalf of council legislation.
He was soon on his way, but not before taking questions about the lack of parking spaces in the Queens Plaza area and the possible incursion there of strip clubs. Of the former he said that while nobody misses the 1971 garage that has been replaced by the Tisch tower, many miss what it provided; it’s rough waiting for the garage that is to be included in the new building. He had no happy answer for their laments, only observing that he’d heard many of them, especially from bureaucrats who’d lost a parking resort when the garage came down. He said that if Manhattan drives strip clubs from its streets and in effect chases them over to Queens, it is not enough for him and others to “hold a protest outside Sin City” in the hope that such action by itself will make it go away. The strip joints, such as the one its owners are determined to establish on 21st Street facing an exit from the upper level of the Queensboro Bridge, must be made to know they’re not wanted, he said, even if that results only in driving them to some other neighborhoods, transferring the problem.