Plans for library branch on State Street in Schenectady move forward

Thursday, March 13, 2014
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— County legislators have approved a deal with an Albany County developer that will allow them to move forward with a project to build a new library branch on State Street.

Members of the Legislature adopted a resolution Tuesday spelling out a reciprocal easement agreement between the county and Vanguard-Fine, a Guilderland-based property-development company. Vanguard-Fine purchased the one-acre site of the old Whitehouse Flea Market from the city earlier this year for $120,000 and are ceding part of the property to the county to build the new branch of the Schenectady County Public Library.

“It’s a very generous donation from this large developer,” said Ray Gillen, chairman of the Metroplex Development Authority.

Vanguard-Fine is expected to develop a portion of the property, but the agreement will allow the county to start developing design proposals for the new branch.

“The goal is we will break ground this year,” county spokesman Joe McQueen said Tuesday. The new 4,000-square-foot branch is expected to replace the library’s Duane and Hamilton Hill branches. Original plans called for both older branches to be shuttered once the new center opened in early 2015.

But the Hamilton Hill branch was taken out of service in December. The branch was on the second floor of the Carver Community Center, which abruptly closed, leaving a gap in the library’s service to the distressed inner-city neighborhood.

The new building — dubbed the Bornt Branch Library and Family Literacy Center — is being located centrally to the Hamilton Hill, Vale and Central State Street neighborhoods. The new building is being named after former branch coordinator Phyllis Bornt, who left a $706,000 bequest to the library system when she died in 2010.

Last summer, county legislators allotted $450,000 for the center from their capital budget to the project. Also, $400,000 will be taken from Bornt’s bequest.

As part of the agreement, the county will pay Vanguard-Fine an annual $2,000 fee for maintenance and plowing of the common areas between the properties. The county also has the option to purchase a portion of the common areas if the developer doesn’t build on its side of the property.

Vanguard-Fine has agreed to grade and prepare the county’s side for construction. The developer is preparing plans to build an 8,320-square-foot retail store.

The acre located between Steuben Street and Swan Street has remained vacant since a series of deliberately set fires in 2010. The city demolished the dilapidated flea market at a cost of roughly $60,000 shortly after the last fire.

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