Praise poured into the new Kingsbridge Library on Tuesday morning, as students, teachers, community board members, politicians and library employees celebrated its long-awaited grand opening.
Sunlight lit up both floors as it filtered through large floor-to-ceiling windows of the 12,625-feet building, located at 291 W. 231st St., across the street from its old location. Double the size of what one observer called the “dim and dark” old branch, it holds more than 20,000 items and almost 40 computers, features high ceilings, a multipurpose community room and expansive children’s room. Kingsbridge will be the first NYPL branch to feature a green roof as part of its storm water retention system.
“This is just stunning,” said Randy Good, a home-schooled 12th grader, as he stood in the children’s room and looked around at the indoor and outdoor rock and bamboo gardens.
On Tuesday, about 100 people packed inside to see the new digs and to celebrate the opening with a ribbon cutting, magic show, a talk by Bronx Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan, a jazz concert, arts and crafts and a talk by author Steven Torres.
The day was a long time coming.
Over the last 100 years, the Kingsbridge Library has gone through a series of upgrades, but none as big as the most recent. However, since its announcement in 2000, the project has faced a series of financial delays.
Initially planned to open in 2005, the project was slated at $5.2 million. But its price tag nearly doubled to $11.5 million following the construction delay due to the attacks on the World Trade Center. The project was removed from the budget. But with help from politicians, Councilman Oliver Koppell, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., construction for the project began in July 2009.
Mr. Koppell has long been a supporter of the new library, allocating $3.5 million of his discretionary council funds for the project. However, despite his and Community Board 8’s focus on the library, the fight for the new location has been a long one.