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.

Monday, June 13, 2016

News Coverage of Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. Lawsuit Against Brooklyn Heights Library Sale

This page will be updated.

On Friday, June 10, 2016 there was a New York Supreme Court hearing on the lawsuit against the sale of the Brooklyn heights Library filed by Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc.

Here is coverage (comments are possible):

    •    News12 Brooklyn: Group files suit against library reconstruction, June 11, 2016 (includes video).
The group adds that there is also a federal depository at the library where citizens can look up government documents, which would be moved to a central library.

Martha Ramos

Marsha Rimler

Reporter Katie Cummings

Rimler and Ramos

Included in this News12 report, filmed for an earlier News12 report with Citizens Defending Libraries, this compares two similar deals, the sale and shrinkage of the Donnell Library for a luxury tower (left) and the sale and shrinkage of the Brooklyn Heights Library for a luxury tower (right)

    •    Brooklyn Daily Eagle: Judge mulls suit to block sale of Brooklyn Heights Library, by Mary Frost, June 13, 2016

Roughly 20 library supporters filled the seats in the courtroom of Friday, along with a phalanx of attorneys representing the city, the library and the developer.

* * * *

In papers filed by the group's attorney Richard Lippes, Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc. challenged the project's environmental assessment under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).

Some of the environmental issues that received inadequate consideration in the city's review, according to Love Brooklyn Libraries, Inc.'s legal petition, include the already high level of local traffic, and the cumulative impacts on traffic from other nearby projects going on at the same time. These include the repair of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Brooklyn Bridge upgrade. The group also says that the project will cast a shadow on nearby Cadman Plaza Park.

Another impact listed is the loss of the Business & Career Library as well as the federal document depository. These facilities are moving to the Central Library in Prospect Heights.

In addition, the group argues that the city never considered the importance of either the library's architect, Francis Keally, or the artist that did the stone friezes on the library fa├žade, Clemente Spampinato.

"More than just the name of the architect and artist needs to be discussed in order to meet the `hard look standard,'" the petition says.

According to legal documents filed by the city, however, the project's 271-page Environmental Assessment Statement (EAS) was prepared according to the standards of the City Environmental Quality Review Technical Manual, which governs environmental review in New York City. The EAS received input from "numerous city agencies," according to the city.
    •    Brooklyn Paper: Dark Forecast for Green Space- Sunset clause: Activists sue to stop shadow-casting Heights Library tower, By Lauren Gill,

Amongst other issues, the suit charges, it only considered how the building's shadow will affect vegetation in local parks, but not how it will disturb parkgoers' quest for sunshine.

"The fact that when these shadows occur a citizen of New York might be able to sit in the sunshine by going to a different park or moving around with shadows to other parts of the park belies the effects of the shadow on park users," reads the lawsuit filed by anti-library-sale group Love Brooklyn Libraries, which will go before a judge on Friday.

* * * *

But the activists' suit claims the city ignored several ways the community would suffer, and now they're demanding the court halt the work - set to begin in fall - for a more rigorous study.

The city disregarded not only how shadows would affect residents, but also the extra traffic construction trucks and new citizens would bring, the suit alleges.

Additionally, the assessment didn't consider that the new branch inside the tower won't have room for the old business library section, and disabled residents and seniors will have trouble reaching its new location in Prospect Heights' Central Library, as it's not near any handicap-friendly subway stops, the activists allege.

* * * *

Finally, the city did not seriously explore whether the branch's existing facade - a mid-century Beaux Arts number designed by Italian sculptor Clemente Spampinato and architect Francis Keally - is eligible for state and federal landmark status, the lawsuit claims.

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