Why Is New York City Planning to Sell and Shrink Its Libraries?

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . . fund 'em, don't plunder 'em

Mayor Bloomberg defunded New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth, shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for wealthy real estate developers at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity. It’s an unjust and shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.

It should NOT be adopted by those we have now elected to pursue better policies.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Where Is The Transparency?- Handout to Community Board 2 Land Use Committee the day of its June 17, 2015 Hearing About Whether To Sell and Shrinks The Brooklyn Heights Library

This was handed out by Citizens Defending Libraries at the Brooklyn Community Board 2 Land Use Committee meeting and public hearing about whether to sell and shrink a major publicly owned asset, the Brooklyn Heights Library, the central destination library in downtown Brooklyn.  It was the first ever public hearing about whether to sell and shrink an important New York City library.
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Where Is The Transparency?
Brooklyn’s Community Board 2 is being asked to vote and irrevocably shrink a (recently enlarged) major New York City library blindfolded.  It’s been furnished with misinformation and misrepresentations. . . .  AND here are just some of things that are unknown because the BPL is deeply non-transparent about this hand-off of a juicy real estate deal to a connected developer:
    1.    The true and complete costs to the public of selling and shrinking this library as proposed.  The building would cost at least $60 Million to build from scratch and together with the land and right to expand the public uses on the site is assuredly worth more than $100 million, but the BPL may net virtually nothing or even wind up in a financial hole selling it.

    2.    The “strategic real estate plan” formulated going back to 2007 (likewise the “Revson Study”) that would tell the public what libraries will returned into real estate hand-out next.

    3.    Communications between the BPL and the Department of Design and Construction that contradict what the BPL is now saying about there being a highly inflated cost to repair the air conditioning at the library.

    4.    Whether, as seems to be the case, Saint Ann's, a private school, is pocketing more money from this transaction than the BPL will net. The school is now taking all cask rather than getting a 20,000 square foot school theater (worth maybe $42 million?).   Does CB2 know?

    5.    Information about the historic nature of the building including BPL communications with Landmarks.

    6.    How much the BPL is spending on high-priced lobbyist and PR firms to push for the sale of libraries.

    7.    Information about book counts: what they have been, what they are now and what they are intended to be in the future.  For instance, the BPL and the architect representing it, and the developer in this regard have not been able to state what the book shelf capacity of the entire Brooklyn Heights Library is or what it will be reduced to in the future.
And as Mr. de Balsio said when he was running for mayor (July 12, 2013):

“It’s public land and public facilities and public value under threat. . . and once again we see, lurking right behind the curtain, real estate developers who are very anxious to get their hands on these valuable properties”

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