Schenectady

Schenectady leaders tout new chapter in Mont Pleasant with library plan

Construction could begin in spring
A rendering of the new library in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
A rendering of the new library in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood.

SCHENECTADY — County and city leaders gathered Wednesday to celebrate the turning of a page in the Mont Pleasant neighborhood, as plans for a new library branch move forward.

The project, announced in March, cleared a significant hurdle after the Schenectady Industrial Development Agency secured the title last Friday to the property at 1032 Crane St., the former site of Chubby’s Pizza. That property and the one next door will be demolished in the fall, with construction of a $2.3 million library scheduled to begin in spring 2018.

“I’m excited for the ribbon-cutting, but I’m really looking forward to the day when those two buildings (next door) disappear,” County Legislator Gary Hughes said.

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Standing in the current library — in front of a rack of books containing entries in the “Captain Underpants,” “Cam Jansen” and “Goosebumps” series — local officials and neighborhood residents hailed the project as transformative for the area. Those in attendance also got a first look at a rendering of the proposed structure, which has a targeted completion date of early 2019.

The current library is small and lacks many of the resources offered at the libraries on Clinton and State streets.

The new facility will encompass 5,000 square feet and will feature expanded hours, community meeting rooms, literacy training and programming tailored toward the neighborhood’s needs. It will be modeled in many ways after the Bornt Branch on State Street, which opened last year.

The county is committing $1.55 million toward the project, with the remainder covered by funding from the Library Board of Trustees, the Wright Family Foundation, Neil and Jane Golub, and others.

“We feel strongly we can replicate the success of that branch here in Mont Pleasant,” said Carmel Patrick, president of the Library Board of Trustees. “We feel it will have an impact on keeping the neighborhood safer and give children and families a safe place to be in the heart of the neighborhood.”

Residents attended a community conversation in April to share ideas for what they’d like to see in the new library.

The city’s Industrial Development Agency initiated eminent domain proceedings in April, with the hope of taking control of the building at 1032 Crane St. The entity secured the property on Friday at a price of $150,000.

The IDA already owns the building next door at 1036 Crane St. Both structures will be demolished to make way for the new library. Once construction is complete, the old library will be torn down, and that lot will be used for parking.

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Many Mont Pleasant residents view the project as a step toward revitalizing Crane Street and the neighborhood as a whole. Chubby’s was a hotbed of crime over the years, generating more than 500 public safety calls in a nine-month period in 2015. The business was shut down in November for code violations.

Mayor Gary McCarthy said building the new library is one step toward improving the quality of life for Mont Pleasant residents. The city began work in May to expand nearby Orchard Park, and other initiatives will be announced soon, McCarthy said.

Residents and library staff on Wednesday said the upgrade is badly needed and could provide a safe, accessible community space for children and families.

“It’s a huge need for the community because there’s not much else here,” said Chris Symes, manager of the Mont Pleasant Library Branch. “We’re basically taking back part of the community.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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