Local leaders break ground on Steinway Library’s new accessibility project. The attendees included Council Member Costa Constantinides (far left), Queens Library President Dennis Walcott (second from left), State Sen. Michael Gianaris (third from left) and Borough President Melinda Katz (fourth from left). // Photo Courtesy of DDC

New Accessibility Project Will Finally Open Steinway Library To All Astorians

By David Brand

A library in Astoria will finally open up to people with disabilities. And you can put that in the books.

Queens Library President Dennis Walcott and NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Lorraine Grillo joined Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Council Member Costa Constantinides, State Sen. Jose Peralta and Assembly Member Aravella Simotas Monday to officially break ground on a $3.9 million renovation of the Steinway Library.

The project will add an elevator and new entrance ramp to enable full accessibility, revamp the building’s second floor and basement and address external issues to ensure the building’s long-term structural integrity.

“With these renovations, Queens Library’s Steinway branch will be more technologically efficient, eco-friendly and accessible to everyone,” Walcott said. “Our patrons deserve no less.”

The library will be closed until Aug. 18 to accommodate preliminary work related to the project. It will close for about a year starting in the fall and will fully reopen in Fall 2019, according to DDC.

For years, people with wheelchairs and individuals with other mobility impairments struggled to enter the building and move about the floors to peruse books, magazines and movies or access other resources and events. The library branch hosts various programs for immigrants, serves as a cooling center on dangerously hot days and provides free meals to local residents.

“A strong public library system indicates that a community values learning and future opportunities for its young people,” Grillo said. “This project will ensure that Steinway Library remains an enduring resource for Astoria, one that’s accessible to everyone as a center of culture and education.”

The Steinway Library was built in 1955 and has served generations of Astoria residents, including a young Constantinides

“Grew up going to Steinway Library, now honored to help give it new life,” Constantinides tweeted.

Katz said the renovation will enable the entire community to share in all the library has to offer.

“Queens Library is one of our borough’s most treasured institutions, and this $3.9 million renovation will enhance Steinway Library’s long-term structural stability and accessibility to people of all abilities,” Katz said. “Astoria is an ever-growing community of families, who will now be able to enjoy a fully accessible, state-of-the-art community library as a center of learning, literacy and culture for residents of all ages.”

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