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What you need to know for 11/19/2017

New library planned for site of former Chubby's Pizza

New library planned for site of former Chubby's Pizza

Business had been hotbed of crime over the years
New library planned for site of former Chubby's Pizza
Yankee Pizza & Deli at 1032 Crane St. in Schenectady is the former location of Chubby's.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

SCHENECTADY -- A former convenience store that has been a magnet for crime in Schenectady’s Mont Pleasant neighborhood will soon make way for a new library, Schenectady County officials announced Monday.
 
The Schenectady Industrial Development Agency is in the process of acquiring the 1032 Crane St. parcel, where the former Chubby’s Pizza stands now. The IDA already owns the property next door at 1036 Crane St. The county intends to demolish both buildings to make way for a new library and literacy center, though the timeline was unclear as of Monday.
 
The new facility will provide services in early childhood literacy, family and adult literacy, financial literacy, digital literacy and more. Once construction is complete, the Schenectady County Mont Pleasant Library Branch at 1026 Crane St. will be knocked down to make way for expanded parking.
 
The current library building isn’t adequate for the type of programming the county would like to offer in Mont Pleasant, said Schenectady County Spokesman Joe McQueen. However, the county didn’t want to have to close it in order to build something new.
 
With the city IDA taking action on a neighboring property, the opportunity arose to build an entirely new facility modeled after the Bornt Branch Library and Literacy Center on State Street.
 
County officials hailed the Bornt branch, which opened about a year ago, as a major success. The facility has hosted more than 82,000 individual visits and issued just over 1,000 new library cards in its first year, the county said.
 
The Mont Pleasant branch plan is a victory for neighborhood residents, many of whom have spent years trying to rid the area of crime and blight, said Patricia Smith, president of the Mont Pleasant Neighborhood Association.
 
“It’s the best thing that could have happened at this point for us,” she said. “I think it’s really going to change the face of the neighborhood -- the attitude of the neighborhood.”
 
The library’s expanded literacy services will fill a need in the community and create a space in which residents can feel comfortable asking for help, Smith said.
 
She said she hopes the new library will help attract small businesses and homeowners to the neighborhood. Smith has lived in Mont Pleasant for 30 years, she said, and would like to see the area become a center of activity like it was in the 1980s.
 
Chubby's, a pizza shop and convenience store, had been a hotbed of crime over the years, generating more than 500 public safety calls over a nine-month period in 2015. The city shut down the business in November 2016 and cited its owner with 16 counts of operating without a certificate of use.
 
At the city’s March 15 Planning Commission meeting, Ahmed Hussein submitted an application to open a new convenience store in place of Chubby’s. That application was ultimately tabled, after commissioners expressed concern over the condition of the property and Mont Pleasant residents spoke in opposition to the proposal.
 
The IDA is attempting to acquire the building through negotiations with the owner, but the agency voted last week to move forward with eminent domain proceedings, if necessary. That process typically takes about 90 days.
 
The IDA purchased the property at 1036 Crane St. earlier this year for $55,000.
 
McQueen said the timeline for construction of the new library was up in the air, as it will depend on when the IDA is able to acquire 1032 Crane St.
 
The Bornt branch cost about $1.8 million to build, but it is too early in the process to estimate the cost of the Mont Pleasant facility, McQueen said.

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