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New library leases making rehab grants possible

MIke Desmond

The City of Buffalo owns seven of the eight Buffalo and Erie County Library System branches in the city. A new master lease between the city and Library System will allow branches to seek grants to pay for major rehabs.

There have been leases for years, routinely renewed. The library system is working on getting grants for significant work, like the current plans for the East Delavan Library.

Agencies giving out money like the $300,000 for East Delavan told the library system they want to see leases running at least 10 more years. Library system Director Mary Jean Jakubowski said East Delavan needs major work.

"Help us to complete the very significant project over at the East Delavan branch library, full facelift there, including making that facility fully ADA accessible, with an elevator that will take our patrons down to the lower level, a place that you couldn't get to before unless you could could use the stairs, new restrooms, a new meeting room," Jakubowski said.

Councilmember Richard Fontana said it is a heavily used library and the elevator will allow more use, both for the overall meeting room, but also for the bathrooms.

"A building that was needing some work for the basement. Bathrooms are in the basement, so having the bathrooms in the basement is causing some problems for some of our guests," Fontana said. "So the talk was to put in a new elevator, a new side entrance and that's what we're going to be doing this year. The whole library is going to be renovated now and I want to thank the library board for going out and receiving a grant for $300,000 to put into the pot."

Jakubowski said the Crane Branch in the Elmwood Village is next in line for an elevator to improve access to a meeting room and that grant requests are out.

"Bringing that into the 21st century, to be able to be fully ADA accessible," she said. "That makes me very proud, that we're going to be able to say we have an ADA-accessible library on the East Side of Buffalo. Demand is certainly high where we are and our demands are changing, so to meet those changing demands, we absolutely need to make improvements in our library buildings."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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