Blighted Buildings on Crane Street to Make Way for Community Investment
(Schenectady County, NY) Schenectady County today announced plans to build a new Branch Library and Literacy Center on Crane Street in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood. The new facility would be built on the site of the former Chubby’s Pizza, adjacent to the current Mont Pleasant Library Branch, and would emulate the Bornt Branch Library and Literacy Center built last year on State Street.
“We are extremely excited for this opportunity to bring our successful Branch Library and Literacy Center model to the Mont Pleasant neighborhood,” said Holly Vellano, Chair of the County Legislature’s Committee on Libraries and Education. “Through our discussions with the community it is clear that improved family literacy is a primary need for many of our residents and families, and the expansion of our literacy center model can have a dramatic impact on the educational success of our children and the economic health of our community.”
The City IDA, which is administered by the Schenectady County Metroplex Development Authority, is acquiring the site needed to build the new library and literacy center. The IDA already owns 1036 Crane Street and is in the process of acquiring 1032 Crane Street by negotiated purchase or eminent domain. The building at 1032 Crane Street had more than 500 police calls last year and the convenience store formerly located at the site was shut down by the City of Schenectady. The County will take possession of the site from the City IDA, demolish the buildings, and build the new branch library. Once completed, the current branch would be demolished for expanded library parking. The current branch lacks adequate space, parking, handicap access and other amenities needed to host a modern branch library and literacy center.
“We have seen the positive impact that investments in a new building like this can have on the neighborhood,” said Gary Hughes, Chair of the Legislature’s Committee on Economic Development. “This project will replace blighted buildings with a new positive direction for the Crane Street business corridor.”
The new facility is designed to be used by families and children and will provide services in early childhood, family and adult literacy, financial literacy, digital literacy, and other youth and adult programming. The focus on literacy is part of a community-wide effort involving the County, City, City School District, private foundations and others to equip every member of the community with solid reading and writing skills.
The County’s first literacy center has been extremely successful. In its first year, the Bornt Branch Library and Literacy Center on State Street has hosted more than 82,000 individual visits with 1,047 new library cards issued and 61,169 items circulated. There have been 469 different programs offered with nearly 5,000 individuals attending. Branch computers have been used more than 20,000 times with more than 13,000 visitors utilizing the free wireless internet service. The branch has also become a meeting place for many community organizations, with 98 different outside groups using the branch community spaces.
“We are so proud of the work we have done in successfully creating our first literacy center in the Bornt Branch Library,” said Carmel Patrick, President of the Library Board of Trustees. “The Library Board of Trustees now looks forward to working with the County Legislature to replicate this important community asset in Mont Pleasant, bringing together children and their families with our talented and caring Library staff members in ways that make them excited and enthusiastic about reading, and inspired to value life-long learning.”
In addition to the new Bornt Branch, and plans for replacing the Mont Pleasant facility, the Schenectady County Legislature has expanded and improved the central library downtown and made upgrades at many of the branches.
For more information about the Schenectady County Library System see www.scpl.org.
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