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Survey May Decide West End Library's Use

West End Library branch. (Credit: Joe Kellard)
West End Library branch. (Credit: Joe Kellard)

The Long Beach Library and the West End Neighbors Civic Association have collaborated on a survey distributed to West End residents to gauge their interest in various options for their neighborhood branch, including whether to keep it as a library or convert it into a combined library and community center or some other use.

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The library’s Board of Trustees will discuss the survey at their monthly meeting Dec. 18 before making a final decision on the branch, Director George Trepp told Patch last week. “[T]here will be another iteration of the proposed survey,” Trepp said of the meeting.

The one-story branch, at 810 W. Beech St., was heavily damaged during Hurricane Sandy, and after the storm the landlord made repairs. The library proposed a $3.4 million budget for 2013-14 that covered the $21,600 annual lease at the branch that expires in February, but it omitted $64,000 to restore and restock the one-story branch. Library officials cited a decline in annual circulation, from 8,000 items to 6,000 and lower prior to the Sandy, as one reason to close the branch. Voters approved the budget in May.

The library proposed converting the branch into a new use, possibly as a meeting room for local non-profit organizations as a way to help the Sandy-battered community, or as a technology center equipped with a new computer, printer, Wi-Fi and other devices. The library continues to sublease the branch to Project Hope, which pays $250 a month, and Sustainable Long Island, which uses the space at no charge.

The civic association proposes replacing the library as a community center and multi-use library, in which the library section would still provide books and movie rentals but also offer e-readers and iPads, while the community center section could host everything from lectures to after-school programs to teen movie nights. Civic leaders also propose that a local business could possibly run a coffee bar at the branch to help boost revenue, according to the Long Beach Herald.

While the library would be amenable to a multi-use facility, Trepp said, the trustees said they wanted to first conduct a West End-wide survey to gauge residents’ interests for the space before proceeding with a plan.

Trepp told the Herald that the library was required to sign a non-renewal notice last month — three months before the lease expires Feb. 1 — so that the landlord could seek a new tenant to rent the building, with the library among the potential tenants.

The library’s Director’s Report for October and November, posted on the library’s website, states in relation to this matter: “Regarding the property that was described at the meeting, Trepp was in contact with the realtor who indicated the owner probably would not wait for government agreements.”

Joe Sinnona, the Long Beach realtor hired to find a tenant for the building, didn’t return Patch’s request for comment about plans for the building. 

Jack December 13, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Teen movie house and coffee bar at taxpayer's expense? Close the crappy storefront down and put the rental money back into the budget to reduce taxes. Close the useless Point Lookout branch also. All waists of taxpayer money. If you need to physically use a library then go to the real building. If not uTeen movie night and a coffee bar? poppycock! Close the se the online computer services.

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