Controversial Red Hook Library Renovation Delayed to Allow Community Input

By Nikhita Venugopal on August 6, 2014 2:39pm 

 Residents of Red Hook and community members gathered at Red Hook Public Library last month to hash out details of a proposed plan to renovate the library. The plan would allow a nonprofit organization called Spaceworks to use about half the library room to build two dance studios for artists to use. Those who opposed the plan felt it was an unnecessary use of a space that was meant to be dedicated to literacy.
Residents of Red Hook and community members gathered at Red Hook Public Library last month to hash out details of a proposed plan to renovate the library. The plan would allow a nonprofit organization called Spaceworks to use about half the library room to build two dance studios for artists to use. Those who opposed the plan felt it was an unnecessary use of a space that was meant to be dedicated to literacy.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

RED HOOK — Community outcry against a divisive plan to add dance studios to Red Hook’s public library has prompted officials to delay the start of construction in order to seek more local input.

Brooklyn Public Library aroused the anger of many in the community when it revealed it planned to close its 7,500 square-foot Red Hook branch for eight months and turn roughly half the main library room into dance and rehearsal studios run by and partially funded by Spaceworks, a nonprofit organization.

"We heard the community's concerns, and are going to have a robust dialogue with Red Hook residents, community leaders, and elected officials before moving forward with any project,” said BPL spokeswoman Emma Woods.

Under the current plan, Spaceworks would run the studios and fund about $650,000 of the $1.8 million renovation. The rest of the money would be provided by the City Council. 

Many Red Hook residents have expressed concern that the dance studios would “take over” the free and public space that should be dedicated to reading and literacy.

Spaceworks is “committed to continuing this process, cooperating with the library, and hearing from the Red Hook community,” Spaceworks spokeswoman Colleen Ross said Wednesday.

“Our core mission is to provide affordable space to artists and cultural organizations. We believe this strengthens the cultural landscape of the city, and complements vibrant neighborhoods."

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