Tag Archives: Mayor Bill de Blasio

Police officers honored for saving man’s life in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer's office

Two local police officers were honored Thursday for their heroic actions that saved a life in Long Island City last month.

Police Officers William Caldarera and Corey Sarro of the 108th Precinct were given a proclamation on behalf of the City Council for saving the life of a 66-year-old man who was found motionless in front of LaGuardia Community College in December.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who was joined by Mayor Bill de Blasio, presented the honor to Caldarera and Sarro.

On Dec. 16, the officers saw a crowd of people gathering around a man lying motionless on the sidewalk in front of the college. Caldarera approached the elderly man and discovered he did not have a heartbeat and was not breathing.

Sarro then began to conduct chest compressions, while an ambulance was requested. Using a defibrillator provided by a public safety officer, Caldarera and Sarro attached the machine to the man’s chest, according to police. After a second shock, the man’s heartbeat returned and he began breathing again.

The man was taken to Elmhurst Hospital in stable condition.

Although both Caldarera and Sarro had experience with CPR while off duty, this incident was their first time having to use a defibrillator.

Both officers said it felt great once they were able to revive the man and get him to breathe again.

“There is really no feeling to describe it,” Sarro said at the time. “It was a relief to be able to save him.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

17 city-owned sites in Jamaica identified for new affordable housing


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Christopher Bride/PropertyShark, Map courtesy of Google

In the de Blasio Administration’s latest effort to make a dent in the city’s housing crisis, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is calling on developers to build housing on about 175 sites across the city.

The agency released a list of vacant, city-owned properties for the construction of affordable housing across the five boroughs last week, including 17 sites in Jamaica, which are the only Queens locations.

The agency is collecting applications from developers until Feb. 19 for the program.

The city is even offering financing through its Neighborhood Construction and New Infill Homeownership Opportunities programs, but it comes with the requirement that at least one of every three units must be affordable or up to 80 percent of Area Median Income. That’s no more than $67,120 in annual income for a family of four.

This effort seems to be part of Mayor de Blasio’s plan to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over 10 years.

The single largest lot in the program is at 108-59 Union Hall St., which has 8,830 square feet. But if combined with adjoining vacant lots at 108-41, 43, 49, and 51 there is about 20,800 square feet of space.

Take a look at the map below to see where the Jamaica properties are, and click here for the full city-wide list.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Real Estate Board celebrates retiring president at 119th annual banquet


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Gotham Photo Company

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) held its popular annual banquet for the 119th time Thursday and celebrated the end of an era.

President Steven Spinola, who led the industry advocacy organization for 28 years, becoming its longest serving leader, was honored at the event with the Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award for “invaluable contributions” to the city’s real estate community. Spinola plans to step down from his position this year, and Con Edison executive John Banks will take over the helm.

More than 2,300 real estate personnel attended the banquet and cocktail party, as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Sen. Charles Schumer and other top elected officials, and the city’s real estate leaders.

“We are enormously proud to honor our dear friend Steven Spinola for all the spectacular work he does for our industry,” said REBNY Chairman Rob Speyer. “For nearly three decades, through good times and bad, Steve’s professionalism, thoughtful advocacy and generosity of spirit has inspired our community.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

NYPD lieutenant’s new book shows history of tension between cops and mayors


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

New York City today is playing out a familiar scenario that pits the mayor against the NYPD rank and file in tense relations, with the roar of public demand for reform as the backdrop, said a veteran cop who has authored a history of the department.

But with the recent killings of two police officers, Whalen believes that the entrenched groups will have to come to a solution. Whalen of College Point is currently a lieutenant with the NYPD, giving him an unusual perspective from within the department.

“Cops have been getting shot in New York City since the beginning,” Whalen said, an idea illustrated in his book “The NYPD’s First Fifty Years,” due to be released next month. “But certain ones like this are more memorable than others because it impacts policy and how we do business.”

The book begins with the unification of New York City in 1897 and the creation of the modern police force, covering the first 50 years of department history.

De Blasio’s relationship with the police has always been uneasy, since his campaign promise to reform policies like stop and frisk and his response to a Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer for the death of Eric Garner. The recent killings of Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Brooklyn further exposed this divide.

The NYPD’s Union President Patrick Lynch blamed de Blasio for the shooting because of his tolerance of protests across the city protesting the police.

“It’s common for mayors to have troubles and be disliked by police,” Whalen said.

But Whalen said history shows that recent events could provide an opportunity for reform. More than 80 years ago, one of the city’s most popular mayors, Fiorello LaGuardia, faced strained relations with police because of his promises of reform and a perceived lax attitude on popular unrest.

LaGuardia became mayor in 1934 and soon after being elected his notions of reform were tested when cabbies began to riot. He urged restraint when using police force against disgruntled cabbies. Before LaGuardia, police would use their batons, but the mayor now instructed the conservative Police Commissioner John O’Ryan to leave the cabbies alone, despite the commissioner’s advice that force should be used.

In the end, more than 100 cabs were destroyed and rioters injured dozens of people. The press criticized the mayor and the commissioner in the aftermath and, Whalen writes, so began an “escalating ideological battle between the mayor and the police commissioner.”

“LaGuardia is much like de Blasio,” Whalen said. “The police didn’t like LaGuardia either but in the end the mayor was able to consolidate a progressive agenda with effective policing.”

Much like LaGuardia, de Blasio is trying to be a progressive politician while keeping crime down, which is why, Whalen said, Bratton was hired.

“There’s always been this emphasis to keep the lid on it,” Whalen said. “Meaning that crime always has to stay down, no matter what. So de Blasio can talk about progressive agendas all he wants, but he still has to have firm authority through people like Bratton.”

Whalen’s book, which was co-written with his father Jon, is filled with tales of early 1900s anarchists and communists attempting to bomb various sites across the city, including Police Headquarters, which puts today’s peaceful protests in context. Whalen’s book also points out how dangerous it used to be to work for the NYPD.

Whalen believes that the Brooklyn shooting will cause many protesters to stop marching in the streets, as de Blasio has called for. It will also put the police on high alert. He cautioned against the police becoming overly sensitive when on patrol and becoming afraid.

“Police have to watch their backs, but if they’re afraid, they might make the wrong decision and then the city will really plunge into unrest,” he said.

Whalen’s book is set to be released in January 2015.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

City Council passes Astoria Cove development project


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

The City Council voted overwhelmingly to approve the Astoria Cove mega development on Tuesday, clearing the way for the major land use project.

The project now goes to Mayor Bill de Blasio for his likely approval. He has already praised the project after concessions were made by the developer to boost the amount of affordable housing included. He has five days to either sign or veto the measure.

Earlier in the month, Astoria Cove developers delayed the City Council Land Use Committee vote to strike a last-minute deal with elected officials concerned about having enough affordable housing in order to win committee support for the project.

Now more than 460 units of the 1,723 total apartments throughout the 2.2-million-square-foot project on the Astoria waterfront will be affordable housing.

Developers also agreed to hire union labor for construction and building maintenance jobs associated with the project, and commit to building a ferry dock.

“This agreement shows what we can achieve when the private and public sectors work together,” Astoria Councilman Costa Constantinides said. “This agreement provides real benefits to the neighborhood and will help further link our booming communities along the East River.”

Astoria Cove will consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.

The project, which is anticipated to take more than 10 years to complete in four different phases, will also include about 84,000 square feet of publicly accessible open space, a school and some retail.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Flushing groups urge city to seek community input on redevelopment plans


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Flushing BOA

Flushing is no stranger to development, but local business owners and community groups are skeptical about Mayor de Blasio’s recent announcement of plans to turn an industrial and polluted section of the Queens neighborhood into a residential area.

Flushing was selected, along with other areas in New York City, as possible candidates in the creation of a new residential community along Flushing Creek. The plans are still in the early stages, but if it goes through, the borders of this new community would run from Northern Boulevard to Roosevelt Avenue and westward to Prince Street.

“The area is a construction and hardware destination and it makes no sense to create apartments here,” said Terry Wong, who owns a store that sells doors on College Point Boulevard.

Speaking through translator Lisa Zhang, the business owner continued, “Everyone will lose business and it will have a negative impact on the whole economy of Flushing.”

The Department of City Planning launched a study in that section of Flushing to come up with a plan for the city and state. The area is largely commercial, and any plan for residential development would require some of the local businesses in the area to be removed.

Developers have been interested in the area for many years, including The Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation, which received a $1.5 million state grant to clean up the polluted waters of Flushing Creek.

John Choe, the executive director for the new Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce, said he liked the idea but he was concerned about what the city’s plan  would look like.

“There needs to be a lot more grassroots organizations,” Choe said. “The former mayor was credited with developing and creating a lot of things in this city, but all those changes came from up top. I would hope that the de Blasio administration avoids the mistakes of his predecessor.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Renewed hope for cleaning up Flushing’s waters


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Eric Jankiewicz

Some foul business was discussed in Flushing this week between city officials.

Councilman Peter Koo and Commissioner Emily Lloyd of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) met deep underground on Tuesday to tour the Flushing Bay Retention Facility, which serves as a storage area for raw sewage and is meant to keep the sewage from entering Flushing Creek, but can only hold so much. The small body of water receives more human waste per year than any other dumping site, according to city records, leading Koo to call the creek “s–t’s creek.”

“Cleaning up this waterway has long been a top environmental priority of mine,” Koo said. “There is a popular phrase used by many when trying to explain they are in a bad situation: being up s–t’s creek without a paddle. With the amount of raw sewage that still enters it, the phrase might as well be changed to, up Flushing Creek without a paddle.”

With Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement that calls for residential development along the Flushing waterfront, Koo and advocacy groups like Friends of Flushing Creek are hoping the spotlight will help spur the city and state to take action and reduce the amount of sewage going into the creek.

“Now that the city has officially announced they are looking to develop the land along the waterfront, this is a great opportunity to shine a brighter light on this longstanding problem,” Koo said. “I will continue my work with DEP, the Friends of Flushing Creek, and every stakeholder in the community so that we can ultimately see the day where people can safely swim in these waters again.”

But a whole lot of waste must be cleaned before anyone can swim in there.

During rainstorms, the city’s sewage infrastructure is flooded out, causing unprocessed human waste to discharge into the bodies of water surrounding New York City. Flushing Creek and Flushing Bay receive the highest amount of this toxic payload, according to city records. Facilities like the one underground in Flushing are meant to minimize this problem, but advocates and local politicians say it’s not enough.

The city currently has no plan to reduce the sewage flow into the creek and Flushing Bay during heavy rainfall. The creek receives 1,166 million gallons per year and the bay receives 1,499 million gallons per year. Jamaica Bay, which is often thought of as one of the most polluted bodies of water, receives a comparatively small dose of 317 million gallons per year.

“Do you know how much human waste that is?” said Alex Rosa, a consultant for Friends of Flushing Creek, which is advocating for the city and state to reduce the amount of filth going into the Flushing bodies of water. “I’ve never calculated how many people you need to make that much waste. But I’m sure it’s a whole lot.”

The nonprofit group is currently working with the DEP through a state grant to create a long-term plan that would reduce the amount of pollutants in the waters. The different approaches and solutions to the waste problem are complicated and can often be murkier than Flushing Creek’s waters after a wet day, especially since people fish and kayak in the waters there.

For example, the city is considering sanitizing the waste with chlorine. But Rosa is cautious to embrace this plan because chlorine, she said, has been linked to several types of health problems, including cancer.

No set date has been made for when a plan would be put together and when it could be implemented. So for now, Rosa strongly urges people not to fish in the waters or get anywhere near them, for that matter. But she remains hopeful that soon people can do these things and much more.

“The synergies and efforts of everyone are finally aligning and we now have more attention,” she said. “The stars are aligned because the mayor is focused on creating a new community along the waterfront.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

City’s pot policy change divides Queens residents, pleases pols


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo via NYC Mayor Office's  Flickr

BY ASHA MAHADEVAN

Borough residents are on both sides of the debate over the city’s recent change in policy over marijuana possession arrests, while several local politicians see it as a progressive move.

“Historically, these types of arrests have disproportionately targeted poorer, young men of color,” Councilman Donovan Richards Jr., said. “Rethinking the administration’s approach to marijuana possession is a key to ending the misguided reliance on ‘stop and frisk’ and rebuilding the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they police.”

According to the new policy, if police find someone in possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana, officers will issue a summons instead of arresting the individual. The new policy, which comes into effect on Nov. 19, is not a blanket rule. The change is valid only if the person has identification and if no arrest warrant has been issued for him or her. Individuals carrying marijuana will still be subject to arrest if the type of possession indicates intent to sell, if the individual has an outstanding warrant, or if the individual is in certain locations such as a school.

Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras is also in favor of the change, calling it a move in the right direction.

“This policy change is one of many steps towards rebuilding those communities of color, like my own, that have been disproportionately jailed and suffered in the long term; it reflects the progressive, forward-thinking direction in which our city and this Council are moving,” she said.

Councilman Rory Lancman, who chairs the Committee on Courts and Legal Services, focused on the effect of the policy change on the overburdened legal system, saying that this change will allow prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys to concentrate on violent crimes. He added that he looks forward to “further reducing the over-policing in communities of color, and addressing the collateral consequences of even mere violations for undocumented immigrants caught in the criminal justice system.”

Queens residents were not as supportive, and even saw the change as potentially dangerous.

“It is not a good idea. There should be more rules covering this. What if someone is on a high and drives a car? This will add more dangerous people on the road,” Bayside resident Robert Posner said.

But others agreed with the looser punishment.

“It’s not right but I am OK with it,” Alda Gomez said. “So long as they don’t sell it or it is not a big amount or they are next to a school, if it is only for themselves, it’s okay.”

Jose Valencia believed it was a good start.

“Eventually law has to change towards legalization,” he said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Real estate roundup: Nothing imminent planned for Sunnyside Yards, City halts Rockaway homeless shelter plan


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Jim Henderson/ Wikipedia Commons

Van Bramer takes de Blasio at his word that nothing is imminent with Sunnyside Yards

“The revelation last week that Amtrak is considering developing the Sunnyside Yards caught most people by surprise—including Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.” Read more [Sunnyside Post]  

5 Pointz building just weeks away from becoming rubble

“Demolition of the five-story building that was once at the heart of the 5 Pointz graffiti Mecca began earlier this week and is expected to be gone in about three weeks, according to building owner Jerry Wolkoff.”  Read more [LIC Post]

City scraps plan for homeless shelter in Rockaway

“One day after Councilman Donovan Richards asked the de Blasio administration to reconsider opening a men’s homeless shelter in his Rockaway district, the Department of Homeless Services said it has scrapped the plan.” Read more [Capital]

New Digs in Long Island City

“When Renee McAdams was attending Columbia Business School more than two decades ago, she swore she would never leave New York. But leave she did, right after her 1992 graduation.” Read more [The New York Times]

 

Real estate roundup: 25K applications for Hunter’s Point South, new Court Square Dunkin’ Donuts sign revealed


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of Related Companies

Hunter’s Point Affordable Housing Lottery Draws 25,000+ Applications In First Week

“Since the affordable housing lottery for Hunter’s Point South, a two-tower development in Long Island City, launched on October 15, approximately 25,000 people have applied, according to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. Ultimately, the development will house some 925 low- and moderate-income families, a significant number, but far below the evident demand in the area.” Read more [The New York Observer]

Signage up for Dunkin Donuts at 44-80 21st Street

“Dunkin’ Donuts officially announced its impending arrival with signage.” Read more [The Court Square Blog]

Build it back ‘starting to change the lives’ of Sandy victims: Mayor

“Set against the backdrop of a cerulean sky fighting through blankets of cotton-ball clouds, Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday talked about one of the city’s darkest Mondays two years ago, the day Broad Channel nearly drowned.” Read more [The Forum]

 

Council member slams Astoria Cove project in hearing


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Rendering courtesy of STUDIO V Architecture

A member of the City Council’s Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises called the affordable housing portion of the Astoria Cove project “a joke.”

Councilman Antonio Reynoso joined the choir of critics against the affordable housing portion of the mega development in the council’s public hearing on Monday.

Other public officials such as Astoria Councilman Costa Constatinides and Public Advocate Letitia James also emphasized that the proposed units for low-income residents aren’t enough.

Representatives for the team of developers on the project have boasted that the project is leading the way in affordable housing with a proposed 20 percent or 345 units of the 1,723 dwellings put aside for low-income residents.

But Reynoso, referencing former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s voluntary 80/20 program, in which 20 percent of units in new developments are reserved for affordable housing in return for benefits, told Astoria Cove project representatives, “What you’re doing is not unprecedented in any way, shape or form; 80/20 without subsidies is a joke. That’s the old standard.”

Reynoso also said that the rates for affordable housing units should be adjusted to better fit Astoria residents, which Constantinides has also previously said.

The team of representatives for 2030 Astoria Developers, the group behind the project, couldn’t answer Reynoso’s question about the average income of residents in Community Board 1, who will have preference to the affordable housing units.

“You guys said that you’ve been working with the community for four years, working very closely with the entire community for four years and you can’t tell me how much Astoria residents make in a year,” Reynoso said. “That’s not four years of work.”

Reynoso also asked how the size of the units in the affordable housing sections compare with the size of Astoria families, many of which need two- or three-bedroom apartments. Again, the representatives couldn’t respond.

“When one master-plans the development, especially of this size, one never plans the unit-mix breakdown at this stage,” a representative said at the hearing. “It’s never part of the planning process.”

Reynoso said he will not vote for the project’s current proposal, and said, “There is no chance this is going to move through.”

Numerous affordable housing supporters in the audience waved their hands whenever increasing the ratio of low-income units was mentioned.

Advocates in support of union jobs and residents from other properties of Alma Realty, which is involved in the project, were also at the meeting to speak out against the firm.

Among those speaking in favor of the project was Jack Friedman, the executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce.

“The Queens Chamber of Commerce believes this project is and will be a great addition for our borough and for Astoria,” Friedman said. “We wholeheartedly endorse and support the project and the many advantages it will present for the local community for generations to come.”

Despite the level of opposition to the current proposal of the project, the City Planning Commission gave its approval last month. Constantinides has pledged to get more affordable housing before the City Council votes.

“As the process moves toward our November vote, we will work with the developer to provide ample affordable housing, good jobs both during and after the construction process, and dramatically increase public transportation options on and off of the peninsula,” he said.

RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Real estate roundup: Transformation of Jamaica, Brooklyn residents join Astoria Cove protests


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre 

Luxury Residence Among Buildings Changing the Face of Jamaica

Jamaica, once an overlooked and crime-ridden area in Southeast Queens, has been undergoing a transformation into a vibrant neighborhood, with a slew of new upscale apartment buildings, hotels and stores.” Read more [DNAinfo]

Battered bulkheads and seawall spell danger for some Rockaway residents

“Jamaica Bay’s crumbling seawalls are putting some Queens residents in jeopardy of flooding. City Councilman Donovan Richards and other officials called on the city to repair Hurricane Sandy-damaged bulkheads in order to protect Arverne streets and homes from the bay’s deluge.” Read more [New York Daily News]

Protesters Link a Queens Project to Brooklyn Rents

“Negotiations over the fate of Astoria Cove, the first new city development to opt into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing program, have attracted no shortage of advocates and critics hoping to influence the process.” Read more [New York Times]

Borough Keeping Buildings Department Busy

“It seems that Queens continues to keep the city Department of Buildings very busy. That was the story Tuesday night at the Community Board 9 meeting as DOB officials detailed how active the borough is with complaints, inspections and penalties.” Read more [The Forum]

 

 

Underfunded parks to receive funding: de Blasio


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Eric Jankiewicz

Mayor Bill de Blasio visited a Flushing park on Tuesday to announce that the city will invest in revitalizing underfunded parks across Queens and New York City.

“It’s a place that needs a lot of support,” de Blasio said about Bowne Playground, where he made the announcement. “It’s been decades of disinvestment in our parks. There’s not much greenery here, as you can see.”

The administration identified 215 parks across the city that each received less than $250,000 in the last two decades.


According to de Blasio, this level of funding doesn’t allow the Parks Department to repair the “wear and tear” of parks such as Bowne Playground. In the first phase of the administration’s attempt to fix up these parks, they aim to invest more than $130 million to rebuild 35 small community parks.

While this initiative will be focusing on 35 parks, including Queens’ Bowne Playground, Astoria Heights PlaygroundCorona Mac ParkGrassmere Playground, Rockaway Community Park /Conch Playground and Van Alst Playground, the administration wants to eventually treat all of the 215 parks that are underfunded to some green. Queens alone has more than 50 parks that are underfunded.

IMG_3975

Bowne Playground will be one of the parks to receive funding for expanded recreational programming and increased maintenance. De Blasio also expressed a desire to have less concrete and more trees and grass.

“This park is an example of why we’re doing this,” de Blasio said, citing the neighborhood’s high population and few public spaces.

“Parks are so many things to us,” he said. “It’s truly a necessity in urban environments.”

RECOMMENDED STORIES

 

Queens Museum announces new president


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Queens Museum

The Queens Museum will continue carving out its plan to become a world-class institution under new leadership come Jan. 1.

The museum’s board of trustees selected experienced art professional Laura Raicovich as its new president and executive director on Thursday, following a national search.

Raicovich has been the director of global initiatives at nonprofit Creative Time, an arts advocacy organization, since 2012 and was chosen to lead the institution in Flushing Meadows Corona Park because of her vision for the future of the museum.

“Laura has spent the past two decades strengthening arts institutions, realizing the visions of artists and engaging diverse constituencies, and we are excited that she will be leading the Queens Museum,” said board chair Peter Meyer. “Our shared philosophy on the future of the museum, belief in the power of the arts to exact positive change, and dedication to making the arts relevant to all audiences made her the right person to move the museum forward.”

Raicovich has a bachelor’s degree in both art and political science from Swarthmore College and a master of arts in liberal studies from The Graduate Center, City University of New York.

She also worked at the Dia Art Foundation, advancing to deputy director during her tenure, and as the senior publicist of the Guggenheim Museum. Raicovich was also a curator of public art for the Parks Department.

Oma-3

Former Queens Museum head director Tom Finkelpearl was courted away by Mayor Bill de Blasio in May to be the city’s commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, months after he oversaw the completion of a $68 million makeover of the museum, which reopened in October 2014.

Raicovich said her goal is to propel the museum into the future as an international destination.

“Looking forward, pairing engagement and innovation with exceptional artistic production will allow the Queens Museum to occupy a unique place in the pantheon of cultural offerings in New York City, to become an international model, and to serve all of Queens as a world-class art museum,” she said.
RECOMMENDED STORIES 

Queens Library struggling from space constraints, report says


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Queens Library

Increasing space for users at Queens Library branches could begin a new chapter in its history, after a new study found most locations are struggling from space constraints.

The news comes days after the library’s CEO Tom Galante was suspended by the board of trustees, following a series of published reports revealing his nearly $400,000 salary, benefits, and erection of a smoking deck outside his office in Central Library, while making employee cuts.

The Center for an Urban Future released Monday the Re-Envisioning New York’s Branch Libraries report, which said 41 of the library’s 62 branches are under 10,000 square feet and struggling to meet the demands of its increasing membership. Queens had the most branches under that size in the five boroughs. Brooklyn came in second with 26 branches.

About 11.2 million people visited Queens Library branches in fiscal year 2014, according to statistics on the library’s website, and there were 929,000 active borrowers. The problem isn’t a need to repair libraries but adjust the layout, according to the report.

“It’s not just that so many New York City libraries are old and in a state of disrepair, many are not configured to meet the needs of today’s users,” the study said. “Designed around their book collections, many devote a majority of their layouts to shelves and rooms for book processing.”

The report specifically identified the Fresh Meadows library branch as one of the more well-attended branches in the city, but only has 8,700 square feet of space. That branch and the Far Rockaway, Lefferts, Rego Park and Sunnyside locations are five of the 10 “highest performing branches citywide” that are in need of more space.

“These well-attended branches would undoubtedly attract significantly more patrons for programs if they had more space for them,” the report said.

But some libraries just don’t have enough seating, such as the Jackson Heights branch, which has more than 375,000 annual visitors, but can only seat 78 people.

In its defense, Interim Queens Library President and CEO Bridget Quinn-Carey said that the library is currently engaging in many projects to expand its branches and meet its vast membership.

“Over the past several years, elected officials in Queens have done a great job of allocating funds to help Queens Library upgrade and maintain its facilities,” Quinn-Carey said. “As the report suggests, there is still so much more that we could be doing for the community if we had the space in which to do it. We look forward to working with public funders to establish a rational, forward-looking capital funding plan that gives libraries the resources they need to plan important capital investments.”

On a positive note, Queens has the newest libraries, according to the report. The borough ranks youngest in age, with the average library at just 47 years old. Manhattan is first with an average age of 84 years old. Also, six of the 15 new libraries in the past 20 years were branches in Queens.

Click here to read the full report.

RECOMMENDED STORIES