Hunters Pt. Library delayed another year

Officials disclose the opening of the new Hunters Point Library will be delayed once again frustrating City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer who has championed the project for decades.
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Hundreds of supporters, family and friends of City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) packed his favorite restaurant, Manducatis Rustica, on Vernon Boulevard in Long Island City last week to witness him officially sworn in to a third term at City Hall. The evening took the sting out of two significant setbacks for Van Bramer earlier in the week.

One was political, the other bureaucratic.

On Dec. 20, City Councilman Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan) became the presumptive speaker of the City Council, over Van Bramer and six other finalists, after the reported backing of U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the leader of the Queens Democratic Party. While Crowley declined to comment on the deal, Van Bramer was one of the first to congratulate Johnson.

“A friend & ally and fellow Irish & LGBT caucus member who will be our next speaker,” Van Bramer wrote on Twitter. “I congratulate Corey on a remarkable run. I’ve never seen anyone work harder. Smart & passionate, he will help our city become a more just place.”

During a hearing held by his Committee on Culture and Libraries Monday, Van Bramer learned from city officials that the opening of the new Hunters Point Library, a project he has championed passionately for 20 years, would have its opening delayed another year.

The Department of Design and Construction Acting Commissioner Ana Barrio testified that construction will be completed by the end of August 2018. Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott said the building would be outfitted and open to the public in February 2019.

Van Bramer said he and the residents of Long Island City were “frustrated” by “horrific decisions” made over the years that have caused multiple delays and false timelines.

“It has already been so painful. It has already been delayed for so many years there are literally already people who have been involved in this project who have died before they could see this library open,” Van Bramer said.

Walcott blamed choices by famed architect Steven Holl, such as special glass made in Germany that was held up for weeks in Spain by a dockworkers’ strike. Barrio said the DDC had changed its written design consultant guidelines to ensure “an architect doesn’t call the shots in the future.”

Walcott also blamed “bad contractors” for the delays as well, explaining that defaulting on the contracts would only create even longer delays as contractors went through a rebid process.

“It is my sense that Hunters Point Library, somewhere along the way it got off track as far as the design is concerned and monitoring what went on there,” Walcott said. “We are not going to allow that again in the future as a library system. We’re never going to allow that to happen again as long as I’m CEO.”

Van Bramer said he was outraged and angry because the new state-of-the-art $40 million library was scheduled to be open already.

“It is an utter disgrace that this has happened to the people of Long Island City and while the day it opens will be a glorious day, it will always be an outrage that the library was mangled as it was given its importance to the community,” Van Bramer said.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at (718) 260–4538.

Posted 12:00 am, December 28, 2017
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Reader feedback

John Bigelow from Queens says:
Seems Mr. Walcott and company have found a lot of people to blame, maybe he should own it and get it done! Or go back to education instead of running a library system that he has no experience in doing in the first place.
Dec. 28, 2017, 9:18 pm
Sheila from Jamaica says:
Agreed, lack of leadership when you just start pointing fingers an blaming everyone else, this project has been under this leaderships' oversight for years, I blame the board. What happened to the world class library that was once so well run and now is run by politically appointed do nothings?
Dec. 29, 2017, 7:49 am
Maria Trustee for Queens LIbrary from All Libraries says:
Don't blame Dennis or this board of Trustees, we inherited these problems. We could have scratched the whole project and started all over. Did you want us to waste taxpayers money?
Dec. 29, 2017, 8:57 pm
Sheila from Jamaica says:
Maria, that is the worst excuse ever, you didn't inherit problems you inherited the business, and you are only "blaming" someone else (many) instead of owning it. Your statement is the oldest dodge in the book. This is your issue not the ghost of Christmas past. If it is beyond your control resign off the board and get someone on that can take care of it without excuses. And yes that includes Mr. Walcott, blame blame blame sounds familiar these days, just like the guy down in DC!
Dec. 30, 2017, 8:51 am
Arthur Clarke, Jr. from Queens says:
Maria- I don't know if you really are a board member, but that really is just pathetic. You essentially just stated that you can't do your jobs.
Dec. 30, 2017, 10:34 am
Felipe Anchorena Menocal from Queens says:
This branch library represents the combination of a corrupt former CEO of Queens Library and political ambitions of various elected officials; both disregard the taxpayer as the funder and potential user of the structure. The failure of administrative oversight by the Queens Library trustees is well documented. FOIL requests to DDC will be necessary to understand why this building design and site were approved, especially because it's directly in the floodplain, about a third of the building is wasted space [i.e., atrium], and operational costs [e.g., staff, security, energy use] will be huge. The construction alone makes it more expensive than hospitals in NYC! Queens Library could have had three branch libraries in the high-rise glass towers littering LIC for what this unfortunate building costs. Ah, the price of egos.
Jan. 3, 2018, 5:37 pm

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