Calling libraries “the people’s universities,” North Bellmore Board of Trustees President Dr. Ethna Lay said the board hoped to open a new temporary library by June that would operate for the next 12-14 months while groundbreaking work is done to the existing North Bellmore Public Library to expand its services and reach into the community.
“We have been underserving the community” with the size of our building, remarked Library Director Tom Bazzicalupo to Your NewsMag during an interview with Dr. Lay.
The current 13,367 square-foot building at 1551 Newbridge Road is set to undergo a complete renovation that will add 4000 square feet to the existing structure based on an $8.9 million bond passed by residents in 2015. New construction will be built as a “wrap” around the building, enabling the interior to be reconstructed outward to fill the added space and expand to the new dimensions.
Space where new library will be located
Among the many new features expected include the addition of a second community room that will feature a raised stage – or platform – for performing arts and other performances. The children’s room will be expanded to serve children with special needs, offer a dedicated program room and provide more open space for reading and interactions.
“We’ll be able to accommodate up to three different groups within the children’s room day or night,” said Library Director Tom Bazzicalupo.
A fireplace will adorn the open-space architecture to promote a more intimate environment for reading or browsing the nearby DVD collections or book stacks. Vending machines will be placed for patrons to snack on favorite items.
Dr. Lay even suggested a new veterans’ memorial concourse will be designed for easier access to both a veterans memorial monument on the Newbridge Road School grounds, and a memorial on the south side of the library to all those memorialized on 9-11.
Meanwhile, a temporary library of 3000 square feet is slated to be set up in an old basketball court between the BMRHA rink and 1602 Bellmore Avenue, and is awaiting approval from the New York State Department of Education. Four large containers similar-looking to offices at construction sites will be placed in the parking lot that will connect together, serving as the temporary library.
Bazzicalupo said negotiations broke down on several locations trustees has expressed interested in leasing for library space, because owners of those properties requested longer lease times.
Once the construction is completed, Dr. Lay said an additional 49 parking spaces will become available to patrons of the library, as well as employees of Newbridge Road School.
Your NewsMag reported in 2015 that the $8.9 million bond that passed in May would cost taxpayers an additional $71.10 a year, or $5.93 per month, and would be financed over 15 years.
The new 4000 square-foot “wrap” addition to the library will use large-scale energy-efficient non-glare glass windows to allow more natural light into the building, providing a “better sense of connection to the community.”
The Young Adults Department was being designed to be placed in a glass-enclosed structure behind the circulation desk, with more comfortable seating- such as lounge chairs – being added to encourage more group studies was also considered.
Solar panels were also a possibility, along with new boilers that could run both oil and natural gas.
New construction would also include shelves in new configurations for more books and DVDs; complete access for the physically challenged; and a spacious, remodeled entranceway with sliding doors.
Additionally, a new parking lot or circular driveway at the front of the building would provide for quick access to the Veterans Memorial Monument.
Meanwhile, the “green,” or field in front of the library, will remain.
Stephanie Cohen, president of Friends of the North Bellmore Public Library, told Your NewsMag she is anxious for the temporary location to open, because they cancelled book sales in anticipation of the library’s closing.
Friends of the North Bellmore Public Library have raised thousands of dollars for the library over the years, she said, including purchase of the piano in the community room. “We will continue our book discussions,” she continued, although she may take the discussions into local cafes and restaurants instead.