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, December 10, 2018

Urgent Appeal from Save Inwood Library to All Our Library Defenders- Inwood Legal Action Needs to Raise $$$ To File Lawsuit

Inwood Manhattan's northernmost neighborhood is targeted for a radical, destructive rezoning and its library is targeted to be sold for a real estate redevelopment deal.  Both of these things are interrelated and both the library and the neighborhood need to be saved.
This appeal comes in from the Save Inwood Library people who are working hard to save that library.

We believe that, like us, you will find yourself endorsing their appeal, wanting to answer it and passing the word around.  We are transmitting the message below in basically the same wording of the entreaty they sent asking that it be passed along to you. . . . .  

As you probably know, the latest library on the sink-and-shrink chopping block is the Inwood branch of the NYPL, located near the northern tip of Manhattan. This library serves its community so well that in 2016 it won a prize as the best neighborhood branch in Manhattan. Inwood opened in 1952 as New York City's first postwar library. It was extensively renovated and enlarged quite recently (1998-2001) under the Adopt-a-Branch Program at a cost of $4.3 million, nearly 90% of it city money. It is well laid out, and in good condition, despite what the NYPL's recent attempts to denigrate this library in order to sell it.  In fact, just recently, in 2010, NYPL president Tony Marx, who grew up in Inwood knowing the library well, visited it again and crowed effusively about how he was blown away by those renovations.  Of the seven branches renovated at that time, Inwood was the newest, yet it is the only one that has been pegged for demolition. That's because this plan has nothing to do with the library and everything to do with real estate.*
[* See our Citizens Defending Libraries testimony on the subject here:  Testimony To City Council Subcommittee Respecting Proposed Sale of Inwood Library for Redevelopment and Upzoning of the Inwood Community, Tuesday, July 10, 2018.]
Inwood is a diverse, working-class neighborhood with a high percentage of immigrants and first-generation Americans of many national origins, and an AMI far below the median for the metropolitan area. Inwood is one of the twelve neighborhoods selected by the mayor for upzoning; the City Council passed the upzoning in August, pushed by the mayor and council member Ydanis Rodriguez but opposed by virtually every resident and business in the neighborhood. An unprecedented feature is that a library/affordable housing project of 14 stories (twice as high as nearly all other buildings in Inwood) planned for the site of the present library was folded into the rezoning plan and excluded from any other regulatory process.

Inwood is not the first New York City library to become a pawn in a real-estate deal, but it is the first to be used as a tool in the rezoning of an entire neighborhood. If this is successful, it will surely not be the last. The think tank, Center for an Urban Future, which is developing these plans, has said as much, for example here (pp.51-52) and here.

This rezoning, if carried out, would devastate our community. We have no choice but to fight it in court. The defense of the Inwood library is a key factor in this fight and inseparable from it; the only way to save the library is to stop the rezoning.

Inwood Legal Action needs to raise $50,000 for an initial filing. We ask everyone reading this to give generously, whatever you can afford. Please go to our site here:
Inwood Legal Action
Remember, our fight is your fight.

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