Public library for Huntington Free Library site in doubt
Mott Haven historic district turns 50
BRONX TIMES REPORTER, M BTR ARCH 8-14, 2019 77
From page 1
discussed for about a decade, would
have complemented the existing library.
While the building sat empty, the
HFL continued to incur costs to maintain
Now the organization may need to
entertain other offers for the site, said
“Sadly, the Huntington has expended
over $150,000 preparing for the
sale, (and this has) gone on for over
nine years,” stated Casey.
The costs included building permits,
and the cost to separate the water,
electrical and gas lines the building
at 9 Westchester Square shared
with the proposed library property.
They are also paying insurance
costs for the roughly 10,000 square foot
building and the land next door.
Additionally, the combined heating
plant that feed 5 and 9 Westchester
Square had to be separated, said
They also paid to have the existing
one tax lot split into two lots.
A NYPL spokeswoman stated that
the organization is still “anxious to
move (the) project forward.”
“The New York City Department
of Design and Construction has identifi
ed a substantial shortfall and we
have requested those funds from the
City of New York before proceeding,”
stated the NYPL spokeswoman. “We
are awaiting a response.”
A NYPL source said that the plans
hadn’t fallen through.
A planned deal having the city purchase land and a building owned by the Huntington Free Library at 5 Westchester Square, pictured here,
looks like it may not materialize if the Huntington decides to entertain other offers amid delays.
As of press time, a DDC spokesman
did not have information as to how
large the shortfall.
However, as far as the HFL goes,
the organization, which never got a security
deposit from the city for the purchase,
will pursue remedies to recover
all monies it has expended (if the deal
doesn’t materialize), Casey said.
Councilman Mark Gjonaj said he
was told that the project was fully
funded and he was surprised to hear
“We understand, to our surprise,
that there is a viable city funding issue,”
said Gjonaj, adding “We are looking
into what is required for a next
Gjonaj remained optimistic about
bringing the library project to fruition.
“The project is still at this point a viable
project,” said Gjonaj. “We just have
to make sure this remains a priority for
this upcoming city budget and with the
(NYPL), and this project begins.”
The new library was touted in 2014
and 2015 as a catalyst for the ongoing
revitalization of the square, according
to previously published Bronx Times
The Westchester Square Business
Improvement District’s chairman,
John Bonizio, said that he isn’t surprised
that the city ran over budget on
the project because based on his observations,
it does so on a lot of projects.
Bonizio called the lack of progress
The physical plant of the current
Westchester Square branch
isn’t in great shape, said Sandi Lusk,
Westchester Square Zerega Improvement
Organization leader, adding that a
library in the heart of the square could
be a great thing for the community.
She noted that the original plans
called not just for another branch to
replace the one on Glebe Avenue, but
a larger ‘library center,’ similar to the
main borough branch, with a larger
amount of programming and additional
research capabilities than the
(Right) Classic townhouses in the Mott Haven
historic district celebrating its 50th anniversary
date back to the 19th century.
Photo courtesy of Mott Haven Historic Districts
From page 1
A group of row houses on Alexander Avenue
near East 139th Street that are in the historic
district turning 50 years old are indicative
of some of the classic town houses in the
Mott Haven community.
Photo courtsy of Mott Haven Historic Districts
The oldest Mott Haven district includes
the Mott Haven Library built
in 1905 as the fi rst Carnegie Library in
the Bronx; the Victorian Gothic St. Jerome’s
Church; and the 1920s era 40th
Precinct, in addition to the rows of fi ne
Alexander Avenue was at one point
known as ‘doctors row’ for the large
amount of physicians calling it home,
said Brooks, adding it was also known
as ‘politicians row.’
The massive amount of large-scale
development in Mott Haven near the
waterfront is something that Brooks
is keenly aware of as this celebration
takes places, with some in the community
rightfully concerned about fast
rising rents, and others welcoming the
new development and the amenities
that should follow, he said.
The attention by large real estate
interests helped him promote the historic
district in Mott Haven without
resources that some other historic districts
can count on, he said.
He said he formed the association
so that people could understand the architectural
contribution the borough
has made since Jonas Bronck fi rst settled
the area in 1639.
“This came from long term residents
who truly understand the contribution
that the Bronx has made to the
architectural beauty of the city,” said
Brooks, adding “We have been singing
the beauty of the Bronx for a couple of
Trumpeting that beauty has also
become easier as the Historic Districts
Council, a non-profi t advocating for
the city’s historical neighborhoods,
made Mott Haven one of its ‘Six to Celebrate’
in 2017, he said.
Alexandra Maruri, owner of Bronx
Historical Tours and a borough native,
has been giving tours in Mott Haven
for eight years.
She said that tours with people
from around the world are still breaking
down negative stereotypes.