That is how much capital funding the recently elected District 19 Councilman delivered to the library earlier this week in a project he is hoping to see completed by as soon as 2016.
Vallone explained that the funds would not have been possible without the substantial $7 million budget for the district in his first year, however adding that any less than $1 million for the library would have little impact.
“Instead of spending $25 or $50 thousand here and there, which doesn’t really do anything, I said let’s put a big chunk in the most important libraries that have the most amount of uses,” Vallone said.
While the early discussions for the overhaul project includes new computers, a larger community space and redone outdoor reading area with fully accessible WiFi, he said the final plan might reach an estimated $3 million.
“By kick starting with $1 million, we’ll get there,” he stated.
Other plans discussed in the meeting include the possibility for a community garden for the nearby schools, sitting space and outdoor electronic charging centers.
“One of my dreams would be to extend the exterior,” Vallone said. “Instead of having that bunker to look through, which to me it always looked like you were going into a WWII bunker, would be to make that a flat glass front to make more space there.”
Eve Hammer, the community library manager at Bay Terrace, said she is hoping the million dollars can bring in a new teen center as well as a handful of new computers to beef up the current eight available at the branch.
“My first thought was, we can make a great library even better,” Hammer said. “Libraries are community centers now.”
While the branch feeds two nearby schools as well as a senior center, Hammer said she is looking forward to new ways of reaching every facet of their daily clientele.
“We want to serve the community as best we can, and that means serving all ages of the community,” she said.
Frank Genese, the vice president for capital and facilities management at Queens Library, said he excited for the large financial undertaking from Councilman Vallone to begin the conversation for renovation.
“One thing we do at Queens Library is we design each library differently,” Genese said following the presentation with the panel of community leaders. “It is based on the needs of the community, the culture and the character of the community.”
Genese said he grew up just around the corner from the library and assured that any additions, like projects done at other branches in the borough, would be done with community input.
“When we finally design it, we will do it in concert with the community and make sure they get exactly what they feel they need in their libraries,” he said.
After the renovations are done with this library, Vallone said he plans on targeting a new branch every year as part of the new initiative.
“We saw this library that hadn’t been touched in 40 years, so we picked this one first,” he said. “My vision for each year going forward is to pick a library each year going forward.”