JANUARY 8, 2020—The following is a statement by Queens Public Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott about today's rally at Court Square Library in Long Island City.
My team and I have worked for more than a year to find alternatives and have visited numerous locations. During this time we also have spoken about the situation with the Mayor’s Office, local elected officials, including the Council Member, community members, real estate developers, real estate brokers, local businesses and non-profits, and companies that had planned to occupy or are going to occupy space in the building where the branch is located.
We reached out to and met with Savanna, the current owner, when Citi announced its plan in July 2018 to vacate the building. Savanna made clear it was not interested in working with us to stay there.
The mischaracterization of our efforts is unfortunate. We are fully committed to having a library in a growing neighborhood we have served for 30 years and continue to work to identify affordable and appropriate space. At the same time, the reality is that we have a fiduciary responsibility to manage the short- and long-term implications of securing a new home in an area with skyrocketing rents.
We are meeting tomorrow with members of the community, elected officials, and Friends of Court Square to provide an update about our next steps.