Great Neck Library Parkville Branch reopens after renovations

Great Neck Library Parkville Branch reopens after renovations
Library staff and local officials cut the ribbon to unveil the newly renovated Great Neck Library Parkville Branch. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

We’re back.

That could be heard from the library staff as the ribbon was cut to unveil Great Neck Library’s newly renovated Parkville Branch Thursday afternoon.

Library employees, patrons and local officials gathered outside the library amid the lingering piles of snow to get the first peak into what the new Parkville Branch would look like after months of waiting to return to their local library.

The library’s reopening was highlighted as the return of its role of fostering culture in the community.

“Library’s are not just a place for books,” Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti (D-Port Washington) said. “They’re so much more. They’re arts, they’re culture, they’re meeting spaces, they’re hang-out spaces for teens and places that moms go and read to their kids – and this new space I know will definitely be utilized.”

The Parkville Branch, the Great Neck Library’s only branch serving New Hyde Park residents, closed its doors for renovations on July 1.

While expanding the footprint of the library was not possible, Elisabeth Martin—library architect and principal of MDA Design Group International—said renovations were focused on making it better with the space they had.

Notable changes to the library are a new children’s room, featuring an adjacent family bathroom and encompassing windows that draw in bright light, and an expanded variety of seating throughout.

Also included is a new, large meeting room located by the front entrance to accommodate scheduled programs and activities.

Library Director Denise Corcoran said the “ideas, hopes and visions” of the community are engrained in the library’s renovations.

“This renovation demonstrates the library’s commitment to being a cornerstone for connectivity, inspiration, culture, education and recreation,” Corcoran said.

Library Patrons Robert and Mona Harvey said they were pleased with the library’s new look and that renovations helped make the space look bigger while offering more seating.

“It’s about time,” Robert Harvey said.

Renovation discussions began in 2017, and after several years of planning and months of construction were finally unveiled.

“So the construction was fast,” Martin jokingly said.

The renovation process had its challenges, noted by former library trustee Donald Panetta, who quit in the midst of an October meeting after yelling at Corcoran over the library branch’s closure.

Panetta told Blank Slate that his resignation was fueled by frustrations over the way the renovation was handled and the lack of an alternative library location for New Hyde Park residents.

The branch reopening also faced delays, with a tentative opening scheduled for the end of 2023 and pushed out to February due to unforeseen necessary construction.

While the process may have been long, it was all worth it for Martin.

“The Great Neck Library Parkville Branch has long been a center in this community, and it was a center for the amazing library service that the Great Neck Library and its dedicated staff provides,” Martin said. “But the prior space did not match the high bar set by its library services.”

The Parkville Branch will also be getting a new face to lead the location, Branch Head William Rosenblum, who is transferring from the Lakeville Branch.

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