FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Council of the City of New York
Council Member Costa Constantinides, District 22
December 14, 2018
Contact: Terence Cullen
Constantinides, Queens Library Celebrate Funding to Fully Renovate Astoria Branch on Hallets Cove Peninsula
Astoria, N.Y. — Council Member Costa Constantinides joined with Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott on Monday to outline funding in the Fiscal Year 2019 budget that will re-envision the Astoria branch as a 21st Century learning facility for Western Queens.
Constantinides, in partnership with Speaker Corey Johnson, allocated $3.25 million in this year’s budget, which took effect over the summer. Since he took office in 2014, Constantinides has now assisted in securing more than $7 million for renovations at the Astoria Library, just one of four remaining Carnegie Libraries in Queens.
For photos from this announcement, click here.
“Libraries are a beacon of learning, whether you’re five or 95, which is why keeping them up to date is so crucial,” said Council Member Constantinides. “Making the Astoria Library better than it has ever been will encapsulate the broader investment we’ve made into the Hallets Cove Peninsula. This will be a state-of-the-art, ADA-accessible facility where residents can grow, learn, and empower themselves. I want to thank Speaker Johnson for his support to fully fund this work, as well as the Queens Library team for its partnership.”
“A library is so much more than a place to check out a book. Libraries provide technology services for people of all ages and afterschool programming for students to keep their learning up outside of the classroom, and they serve as community spaces where neighborhoods can come together,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “All New Yorkers deserve access to state-of-the-art libraries. As more and more people move to Astoria, supporting this branch becomes all the more important. The Council is proud to provide this funding that will help update facilities, expand programming, and make the library ADA-accessible so everyone can utilize this space. This is going to be an awesome library.”
“This funding helps Queens Library meet its mission to transform lives and build strong communities with libraries that are safe, inviting and accessible to all,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “Since he has been in office, Council Member Constantinides has demonstrated time and again his strong support for our libraries and this $3.3 million investment is yet another illustration of his commitment. We are grateful also to NYC City Council Speaker Corey Johnson for supporting the council member’s priorities for his district.”
Constantinides and Walcott were joined at the library by Marie Torniali, Chair of Community Board 1, Queens; Bishop Taylor, Co-Founder and CEO of Urban Upbound; Claudia Coger, President of the Astoria Houses Resident Association; Anju Rupchandani and Andre Stith of Zone 126; Dominique Perrot of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association; and members of the community and library staff.
“From instilling the value and joy of reading in children to helping adults develop job skills, libraries are an essential resource that should be accessible to all,” said Assembly Member Aravella Simotas. I commend Councilmember Constantinides for his efforts to secure this funding to renovate Astoria Library and make the facilities ADA-compliant. I am thrilled that this investment will enable our community’s seniors and residents with disabilities to take advantage of the wonderful enrichment and educational opportunities the library provides.”
“The Astoria Library has been a charming fixture in our community for so many years; a cornerstone of this neighborhood,” said Marie Torniali, Chair of Community Board 1, Queens. “The community is grateful to Council Member Constantinides and Speaker Corey Johnson for investing more than 3 million dollars to make it a state of the art of facility enabling more people than ever to avail themselves of all the Library has to offer.”
“Zone 126 is proud to be joining Queens Library and Councilman Constantinides on this momentous day,” said Anthony Lopez, Executive Director of Zone126. “A fully renovated Queens Library, Astoria Branch is much needed to support the growing needs of families living in NYCHA Astoria Houses, the surrounding blocks and the Zone 126 Neighborhood Community Schools, PS 171Q, IS 126Q, and Long Island City High School. Queens Library is a core partner in our work in supporting communities from cradle to college to career.”
“The Astoria Branch of the Queens Library is an invaluable asset to the Old Astoria neighborhood,” said Richard Khuzami, President of the Old Astoria Neighborhood Association. “As a classic Carnegie Library, our sense of History and Community is reinforced, and at the same time it is a fountain of knowledge and innovation so important to our future (Especially for our youth). We commend Councilman Constantinides for his strong commitment to our neighborhood, Old Astoria.”
A renovated Astoria Library will include a new children’s reading area, elevators, electronic drop-off equipment and other modern-day technology. The branch will also become ADA compliant. The current Astoria Library facility opened at 14-01 Astoria Boulevard in 1904, one of seven Queens libraries to receive a $240,000 construction grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. In 1938, the branch received five Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project murals by artist Max Spivak, all of which were severely damaged over time. Two of the murals, “Grand Finale of an Opera” and “Circus,” were restored through an Adopt-A-Mural program and rededicated at the branch in 2003.
Support for the Astoria Library is part of a major $25 million investment in the Hallets Cove Peninsula since 2014, a historically neglected area that saw generations of underinvestment.
Council Member Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Woodside, East Elmhurst, and Jackson Heights. He serves as the Chair of the City Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on the For-Hire Vehicles, Land Use, Parks, and Transportation Committees and the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee. For more information, visit council.nyc.gov/costa.