New Van Cortlandt Library to add needed space

The Van Cortlandt Library will be moving to a larger location down the road after decades at its tiny Sedgwick Road location.
Arthur Cusano

The Van Cortlandt Library is moving to a much larger building after decades in its tiny Van Cortlandt Village location.

The one-room, one-floor library has been located at 3874 Sedgwick Avenue, just down the road from the Jerome Park Reservoir and historic Van Cortlandt Park, since 1968.

Prior to that, it had been based out of a small apartment building down the road.

Earlier this month New York Public Library finalized its purchase of a 5,800- square-foot building at nearby 3882 Cannon Place that will be converted into the new branch.

The building was purchased by the NYPL on Thursday, August 17 for $1.85 million, according to NYC Department of Finance documents. Prior to that, the building had been owned by a limited liability corporation.

Councilman Andrew Cohen, Senator Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. allocated over $2 million for the new facility, expected to be completed in spring 2019.

“I’m thrilled that the Van Cortlandt Branch has found a new home,” said Cohen. “I was proud to help fund this project that will allow the Van Cortlandt Library to grow with the community. The Van Cortlandt Library has always been an important part of our community and I am excited for its expansion.”

The larger location will enable even more families to enjoy their favorite books and library programs, said Klein, who allocated $500,000 for the project.

“The purchase of the new Cannon Place property by the NYPLis a monumental step for Bronx residents and their quest for a new Van Cortlandt branch,” he said.

The move can’t come soon enough for branch manager Peter Pamphile.

Despite the small size, the branch has seen a 49 percent increase in program attendance in recent years, which Pamphile said has created conflicts

“Programs happen on the floor itself in the children’s area, and that’s an area meant for seating where people read books,” he said. “We had a program where someone was giving the history of beats and percussion of a drum, so we had to warn the whole branch ahead of time that it was going to be louder, and people were disturbed by it a bit.”

The branch is very crowded, he said, especially after school since it is located near P.S. 95. But Pamphile said it isn’t just used by children.

“It ranges from infants looking to take out their first book to seniors who want the new James Patterson novel,” he said. “I can honestly say there is no primary user, we run the full gamut of ages.”

Pamphile said the library system would be reaching out to residents for their input about what they want to see in the new library.

The two-family home originally on the property was demolished in 2008 to make way for a two-story supportive housing building.

A temporary certificate of occupancy was issued for a two-story, 10-unit facility in 2016.

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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