Kingsbridge Library is on the rise


By N. Clark Judd

For nearly a decade, the price of a new Kingsbridge Library never seemed to stop going up, but the building itself never did.

The bad news is the price won’t stop climbing. The good news is construction is moving ahead.

A city Department of Design and Construction spokesman said last month that the project’s price tag has gone up another estimated $200,000. The project has an estimated cost of over $14 million. But construction, which began in July 2008, is on track to be finished by July 2010, said the spokesman, Craig Chin. A New York Public Library spokeswoman said the whole project won’t be done until 2011. That’s also on schedule.

There was a hiccup when work was getting started, Mr. Chin said: Additional engineering work was necessary when it was found that steel for one part of the project needed to be stronger. That caused the cost increase.

The progress on the library comes after eight years of slow going. In 1999 and 2000, then-Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and City Councilwoman June Eisland began raising a total of about $5 million for the project, The Riverdale Press reported at the time.

Millions poured in, but costs continued to rise; over time, the price tag for the library rose to about $12 and then to more than $14 million. And no shovels hit the ground.

But acclaim accumulated along with the library’s war chest: David Prendergast’s design won an award in 2005 from what was then the City Art Commission. The two-story building will be nearly twice the size of the current library, featuring a 25-foot wall of windows facing south and east and an indoor-outdoor courtyard. There will be eight feet between the sidewalk and the library, and a bridge spanning it for visitors to walk across.

Officials insist it will be worth the wait and the cost to replace Kingsbridge’s aging library.