Court Square Civic Association
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LIC Court Square Library Action

Saving Our Library

Queens Library in Court Square at 25-01 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101

Queens Library in Court Square at 25-01 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, NY 11101

BACKGROUND:

In 1986, the New York City Planning Commission voted to approve Citibank’s application for a special permit to build the 42-story office tower and five-story annex building currently at 1 Court Square. As part of its application, Citibank agreed to, among other things, develop 16,000 square foot of landscaped outdoor public space and build a public library and provide it rent free to the Queens Public Library for 20 years.

Since the Court Square branch of the Queens Public Library was built in 1989, the small but robust Court Square Library has served as a lifeline for many childcare providers, students, and adults needing public services in Western Queens. As our neighborhood continues to grow, the Court Square Library remains more vital to our community than ever. 

Unfortunately, the Court Square Library’s $1 per year sublease has only been extended until March 2020, and it remains unclear whether the branch will be able to remain open beyond that date.  Although the Queens Public Library has indicated that it will continue to engage with the building owner and others to explore a long-term solution, it has not yet come forward with any permanent solution.

A familiar theme in Long Island City has been the lack of simple, but necessary public amenities. Kids need schools. Communities need public space. And Court Square needs a functional library that can support and nourish its residents.

THE ISSUE:

Children’s Library in Court Square

Children’s Library in Court Square

G&M Realty, the developer of 22-44 Jackson Avenue (5Pointz) is requesting approval from the City Planning Commission for a “minor modification” to its Special Permit to construct two residential towers. The proposed modification would increase the number of housing units to 1,122 (including 220 affordable units) from 1,000. The Special Permit already has been approved and gone through the ULURP process, and as a “minor modification,” G&M’s request was referred to the Community Board 2 for its review and comment, before going to the City Planning Commission for its review and a vote.

In July, Community Board 2 sent a letter to the City Planning Commission noting its disapproval of G&M Realty’s minor modification.  At its meeting on October 3, however, Community Board 2 voted to approve G&M Realty’s application for a minor modification on the condition that it set aside 5,000 useable square feet for a public library to be leased at $1 per year in perpetuity.  Again, the Community Board’s decision on this matter is purely advisory and non-binding on the City Planning Commission.

As a key developer for the neighborhood, G&M Realty has an opportunity to truly partner with the community to house a permanent location for the Court Square Library. Court Square Civic Association is supportive of Community Board 2’s proposal to include a library in the new 5Pointz development.

WHERE WE ARE:

Unlike the normal public review steps of the ULURP process, a special permit minor modification does not have to go through the Queens Borough President or City Council but only through the City Planning Commission for final approval.

The good news is that we have the opportunity to weigh in.

OUR ASK:

  • The City Planning Commission approves G&M Realty’s special permit modification but must allocate 5,000 square feet to the Queens Public Library in perpetuity for $1/year. Feasible proposals must be shared with the community before the approval.


WHAT YOU CAN DO:
You can take action in two ways.

  1. Write to NYC City Planning; a simple email goes a long way in amplifying our community's voice. Include local elected officials so they understand how important this is to the community with personal stories for the library.

    Sample Email:

    Dear ________,

    I am writing to express my support for mandating that 5,000 square feet of useable space be set aside for the Queens Public Library at the 5Pointz on Jackson Avenue site being developed by G&M Realty (ULURP numbers below). The current proposal provides limited community benefit outside of affordable housing units.

    Long Island City has long suffered from a lack of investment in public spaces by the City, and in particular in the area surrounding Court Square. We continue to lack concrete timelines relating to investments such as the School Construction Authority’s inability to find a school site for ‘years’, and a distinct lack of park space.

    Losing our dearly loved Court Square Library in 2020 would be devastating to the residents in Western Queens, including the thousands moving in to various new residential towers.

    I support Community Board 2’s proposed solution requiring G&M Realty to provide 5,000 useable square feet at $1 a year in perpetuity which can house the Queens Public Library.

    I hope you take into consideration the real needs of our community and reject the current application for a minor modification by G&M Realty, and approve Community Board 2’s counter-proposal that was approved on Thursday, October 3rd.

    ULURP Numbers: 22-44 Jackson Ave (5Pointz), M 130191 (A) ZSQ

    Thank You,

    Name
    -----
    Emails:

    City Planning, Marissa Lago and Alexis Wheeler: mlago@planning.nyc.gov , awheeler@planning.nyc.gov

    Queens Office: 718-520-2100, Manhattan Office: 212-720-3480
    Jimmy VanBramer, Councilmember: JVanBramer@council.nyc.gov
    Sharon Lee and Jay Bond, Queensborough President's Office: slee@queensbp.org, jbond@queensbp.org
    Cathy Nolan, Assemblywoman: nolanc@assembly.state.ny.us, aglialorod@nyassembly.gov
    Michael Gianaris, State Senator: gianaris@nysenate.gov, LJohnson@nysenate.gov
    Carolyn Maloney, Congresswoman: sarah.hague@mail.house.gov and shelby.garner@mail.house.gov
    Community Board 2: qn02@cb.nyc.gov

  2. Attend the Public Hearing by City Planning [NOW CANCELLED]

***City Planning has informed CSCA that no public hearing will be taking place on Wednesday, October 16th at 120 Broadway, and the timelines remain indefinite for the City Planning Commission to approve the Special Permit Modification.**

Opportunities are available for a public hearing on this special permit modification.

  1. You can RSVP at this facebook event and meet up with others that day.

Oct 16th, Wednesday, 10:00am 120 Broadway, 31st floor, New York, NY 10271


THANK YOU for reading  this far and for being an active member of our community. We look forward to working together to advocate for the needs of our neighborhood. 

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