Today’s news:

Cambria Hgts. library builder still sought

The old contractor, listed on a building permit at the site as Sushmita Massand of 211-12 Union Turnpike in Bayside, was removed June 18 for poor performance, said a spokeswoman for the Department of Design and Construction, which is overseeing the project.

Under a contract with the city, the bonding company, whose name could not be determined, must find a new contractor by July 25 for the facility, at the corner of Linden Boulevard and 219th Street. As of Tuesday, a replacement company had not yet been hired, the spokeswoman for the Department of Design and Construction said.

At Massand's office Monday, a woman said that no one was available for comment. She gave out a business card for Nick Massand, but he did not return a phone call by press time. The Department of Design and Construction spokeswoman said Massand's company had been removed for not showing up to work in May and proceeding slowly at other times.

At the building site Friday, the old contractor's name was still on a white sign announcing "the new Cambria Heights Library" and affixed to a blue wooden construction fence.

Inside a rectangular pit about 25 feet deep, on what was once a vacant lot, stood a large pile of sand. Wood and steel beams have been placed to shore up the perpendicular walls of the pit, and a pile of planks, bricks and metal poles sat scattered around. No one could be seen either in the hole or in the adjacent construction trailer.

The new library will be more than three times as big as the current branch, located about three miles away, and located inside a green building. The additional space will be used for a computer lab, facilities for the disabled and a community meeting space.

The building is due to be completed next year, but it could not be determined what effect the current delay would have on the finish date. The city's 2005 budget includes $918,000 for furnishings and equipment, a spokesman for City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) said.

In a house neighboring the construction site, an older woman sat on her porch babysitting some of her visiting grandchildren. Despite the previous construction noise, the woman, who declined to give her name, said she supported the library project as did the rest of the community.

"It's good for the kids. It's educational," she said, adding that she and other adults also looked forward to using the facility. "Of course, I'll go over."

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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