Otis and Latimer Announce State Construction Grant Awards to New Rochelle and Rye Libraries

Senator George Latimer (D-37 SD) and Assemblyman Steve Otis (D-91 AD) are pleased to announce important state construction grant awards for the New Rochelle and Rye City library systems. The grants are part of a $19 million capital fund appropriation for public library construction in the 2016 state budget.

The Rye Free Reading Room has been awarded $31,129 to create a quiet study space in the library, while the New Rochelle Public Library will receive $78,804 to install a new HVAC system in its main library building. New Rochelle was also awarded a $28,804 grant to replace the interior windows of the Huguenot Children’s Library.

Assemblyman Otis is a staunch advocate for our public libraries who has consistently fought to increase library construction funding in the state budget. Otis, who serves on the Assembly Libraries and Education Technology Committee, stated: “These grants will help to modernize and enhance our library spaces, making them more efficient, functional and enjoyable for residents. State assistance for these important projects eases the burden on local property taxpayers to make these improvements.”

“For many years, libraries have served as a cornerstone in our communities. From the earliest days to our golden years, libraries provide access, education, and information. We have a responsibility to our communities – parents and children as well as the libraries, staff and the dozens of volunteers who support them – to ensure that the facilities are top notch and best serve all those who utilize them," Senator Latimer said.

Tom Geoffino, Director of the New Rochelle Public Library, stated: “Our success in obtaining the grant money for our HVAC improvement project is crucial in allowing our facility to function in a comfortable and successful manner during the hot summer months. The viability of this project is due in large part to the great work of Senator Latimer, Assemblyman Otis and all of our wonderful representatives in Albany.”

“The funds from the New York State Construction Grant program allow us to transform our spaces to best suit the needs of our community,” said Rye Free Reading Room Director Chris Shoemaker. “These new quiet study spaces give teens and tutors a place to learn, and provide small business owners places to work and grow. We're grateful for our legislators’ longtime support of libraries and the construction grant program. We're excited to connect the hundreds of students and business owners a month who already depend on the library for space to study with these new rooms.”

Public libraries throughout the state are in urgent need of renovation and upgrading. A recent survey documented public library construction and renovation project needs totaling more than $2.2 billion. More than 51% of the 1,000+ public library buildings in communities across New York are over 60 years old. Another 33% are more than three decades old. Many of New York’s local public libraries are unable to accommodate users with disabilities, are energy inefficient, cannot provide computer and internet access to users because of outdated or inadequate electrical wiring, and do not have sufficient space to house the library’s expanding collection or accommodate meeting room needs.

“Libraries provide critical access to information for all residents and help to bridge the digital divide for economically disadvantaged students, job seekers and seniors,” observed Latimer and Otis. “They are the very heart of the civic and cultural life of our local communities. We are pleased to announce these important library construction awards and will continue to push for increased library funding as part of the budget process.”

Earlier this year, the Legislature approved $24 million in the 2017-18 state budget for library construction projects that will be announced in the spring of 2018.