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Vallone allocates $1 million, improvements set for Bay Terrace branch

Saying he wants the Bay Terrace Library to be the model for other branches, Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) handed over a $1 million check Monday for a full modernization of the building.

However, there is no start date for the renovation and library officials say more money will be needed to complete the job at the 33-year-old branch at 18-36 Bell Blvd.

Prior to the announcement, Vallone held a visioning session with library and community leaders to discuss what they want in the remodeled one-story building. Frank Genese, vice president for capital and facility management at the Queens Library, led the talk on innovations at other borough branches.

He pointed to large computer stations, more outlets for charging phones and personal computers and reading gardens that could include flowers and vegetables grown by youngsters.

Genese added that it is possible to change the entrance “so it doesn’t look like a bunker.”

Area leaders were enthusiastic about the possibilities, especially when it was pointed out that the property has a lot of concrete space that can be converted to outdoor use for a garden, tables and benches.

David Abbott, principal of the nearby Bell Academy, said he and the principal of PS 169 would like to see students get involved in the planning process.

The main focus, however, was on who uses the branch the most — senior citizens, children and teens. Tom Galante, Queens Library president and CEO, said the different groups use the library at different times.

He noted that seniors use the library in the morning and teens later in the day. “You could use the same space and just add a revolving sign depending on the time of day,” Galante said.

Vallone called the meeting “a launching pad for ideas,” adding that libraries have become community centers “where you learn for free.”

Eve Hammer, head librarian at the branch, called it “the cornerstone of the community” and that the improvements “will make it even better.”

Vallone told the audience of mostly grade-school students, who were drawing pictures of what they wanted in the remodeling, that he was “overwhelmed” by the lack of financial support in his district’s library branches for the last 20 years.

See complete story at Queens Chronicle.