2018-07-25 / Front Page

Woodside Branch Of QBPL Gets $6.5 Million For Improvements

By Thomas Cogan

On June 18, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and U.S. Representative Joseph Crowley came to the nicely air-conditioned Woodside branch of the Queens Public Library to celebrate and publicize the awarding of $6.5 million through funds in the city’s capital budget to give the library a thorough program of repair.  Also in attendance was Dennis Walcott, president and chief executive officer of QPL, who actually greeted the audience, largely comprising children from P.S. 11, right across Skillman Avenue from the library, and their parents.  Busy politicians Van Bramer and Crowley were a little late in arriving.

When they got there, Van Bramer assumed a place as chief speaker, saying he was amazed to have succeeded in getting such an estimable sum, $6.5 million.  The original repair plan was for the children’s room of the building.  Van Bramer reminisced about the time in 1999 when he was working for QPL and the Woodside branch underwent limited repair.  But this year, Walcott, probably considering the time last year when the building was shut down for a few weeks because of emergency conditions within, said that it really needed not limited but total repair.  He put in for $6.5 million and the race between it and the budget vote was on.

Van Bramer said that he called on Congressman Crowley to put in a word for funding this library in the middle of his congressional district and Crowley did, though even then it turned out to be a down-to-the-wire affair, Van Bramer said.  On Thursday, June 14, the library was awarded the full amount.  Crowley told those gathered in the library that he was glad to help and then said that he never ceases to be impressed that the building stands directly across from an elementary school.  He said that in his younger life, the library in Maspeth was the closest one to his school, but it was a long way from being across the street.  Only when he became a congressman did he take in the proximity the Woodside branch provides to a school, he said. 

He closed by praising Walcott as highly qualified to run QPL, following his term as schools chancellor.

Jingru Pei, manager of the Woodside branch for the past 14 years, said this latest funding “will make dreams come true.”  She added that last year, Woodside was one of the winners of a privately-funded awards program to recognize deserving neighborhood libraries.  The sum was $20,000.  The City Council also released funds of $17.5 million for borough-wide distribution to libraries. That amount was considered remarkable, since the original request was only $16 million.

Walcott called for public participation, or “visioning,” regarding what should be done for the Woodside branch with the refurbishment money it now has at hand.  He also said that the job is so extensive the building will have to be shut down again, though for how long and beginning when he could not say.  He said he would issue informational reports periodically.


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