After over a year of construction, the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) celebrated the reopening of the Ulmer Park branch, 2602 Bath Avenue, on Wednesday, August 31.
“We have new everything. We have a new roof, new ceilings, new HVAC units, flooring, furniture, great bookshelves and lots of interactive toys and LED lighting,” said BPL President and CEO Linda Johnson. “The whole place feels great, just like a neighborhood library should.”
The cost of repairs and upgrades was covered by an allocation of $875,000 secured by Councilmember Mark Treyger, in attendance for the celebration, along with Borough President Eric Adams.
“Not only does it look great, it feels great,” Treyger told this paper. “It always troubled me that this was a library that was listed as a cooling center but it had a broken HVAC system the entire time. I’m proud to have partnered with the borough president to fund not only a new HVAC system, but a new roof, new lighting, added technology to the library to the enjoyment of our residents, our children, our seniors, and families.”
According to the councilmember, securing funds for this part of the borough hasn’t been easy. “I’m very proud that we’re now seeing funding here in this part of southwest Brooklyn,” he said. “Libraries to me have always been extensions to our classrooms. Students use them to do research, to study, to do homework, to form study groups.”
When the branch temporarily closed in April of 2015, the space was in disrepair.
“Before this work was done, this library had a lot of issues,” added David Woloch of the BPL. “There were leaky roofs, the air conditioner didn’t work well, and it had been like that for a number of years and the library didn’t look as nice as it does today.”
“The building was in pretty bad shape and in dire need of an upgrade,” agreed Oscar Gonzalez, assistant commissioner for Department of Design and Construction. The need was only more evident as work commenced. “Even when we started to do construction, we encountered unforeseen conditions that you could only discover when you start opening up things.”
Johnson is pleased that those issues are problems of the past. “We won’t have any tarps to keep the water out and no more garbage bags where they shouldn’t be,” she said. “We aspire to be an inspiring place for all of you to come when you’re not at work or school.”
The branch has already received rave reviews from locals. “I like it very much. We were waiting so long for it to open,” said Nicole Gorfin. “We were visiting other branches. Finally, we are here and it’s nice and very welcoming. I’ll be coming every week just like I did before.”