The city has — finally! — turned a crucial “page” in Pelham Parkway’s history.
The New York Public Library has officially renamed the former Van Nest Library on Barnes Avenue the “Pelham Parkway – Van Nest Library.”
Library brass unveiled a sparkling new sign along with community activists and local elected officials on Wednesday, August 27.
Locals had long griped that the branch formerly known as the “Van Nest Library” was not actually in what anyone called Van Nest today.
Since 1967, the library has served the community from Barnes Avenue — just one block from the leafy Pelham Parkway strip, and in prime Pelham Parkway turf. Its former location was on Rhinelander Avenue, in an area locals call Van Nest.
The Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association and local Community Board 11 had been pushing the library for years to change the name, but to no avail.
Early in 2014, local elected officials joined the charge. Pressure from pols including Congressman Joseph Crowley, Senator Jeff Klein, Councilmember Jimmy Vacca and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, helped turn the tide.
“This community, including elected officials, showed an unprecedented amount of support for this action, as well as extreme pride and passion for its local library – which is very encouraging and satisfying for us,” wrote Tony Marx, president of the library, in a statement.
Library staff had originally been hesistant to change the name, because they thought that it would confuse locals with the Pelham Bay Library — even though that branch is over three miles east of the branch on Barnes Avenue.
Eventually, book barons decided to add the “Pelham Parkway” name to please neighborhood activists, but also kept “Van Nest” because it was “historic,” said Marx in the statement.
Many locals would have preferred to get rid of the “Van Nest” moniker entirely — but they are willing to settle for the compromised version of the name.
“It’s wonderful!” exclaimed Edith Blitzer, president of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association, upon first seeing the sign.
“I couldn’t ask for more, Blitzer added. “ Well, I could ask for more, but I’ll take this.”
Staff at the library say service will remain the same, regardless of the branch’s name.
“Regardless of what the library is called, the quality of service we provide to everyone who passes through our doors will not change,” wrote library manager David Nochimson in a letter to the editor published in the Bronx Times Reporter last week.