The money comes from the $10 million allocated to city libraries in the 2005 budget, Gallagher said, and invigorates a sagging campaign to renovate the weathered, Renaissance-style building, which decades of underfunding has left partially shuttered.
Community Board 5 Chairman Vincent Arcuri Jr. launched a campaign in January to raise $1.3 million to build a children's library and make the facility handicapped accessible. To date, he said he has raised just $2,850, barely enough for a new carpet.
Gallagher's grant nearly meets half of the fund-raising goal.
"He's a life saver," Arcuri said.
The library was built in 1936 and evokes an Italian villa with a Spanish-tile roof, a replica frieze from the Davanzatti Palace in Florence and enclosed courtyard garden. Medallions depicting a dozen literary giants - which are now faded and barely discernible - adorn the outside walls.
The building became partially shuttered in the 1970s, when new building codes forced the library to close the downstairs children's library and outdoor garden. Arcuri would like to build an elevator to reopen the rooms and install an electronic book-keeping system.
As soon as the funding comes through, he said renovations would begin to make the downstairs handicapped accessible, his first priority.
He said he would continue fielding private donations and lobbying the federal and state governments for possible grants.
Gallagher said the renovations should draw larger crowds to the already busy public library.
"We're proud to get the funding in there," Gallagher said. "Hopefully, it will be extradited and design plans will go quickly."
To make a donation, contact the Queens Library Foundation at 89-11 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica NY 11432. Or call 718-480-4273.
Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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