Site and architect chosen for neighborhood’s state-of-the-art facility

September 22, 2010
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City of Boston officials said that they would soon announce major developments concerning the construction of brand new, state-of-the-art library in East Boston.

Mayor Thomas Menino hinted at the development at a recent fundraiser for City Councilor Sal LaMattina and the Mayor’s local liaison, Ernani DeAraujo, confirmed that a site has been picked and an architect chosen.

According to DeAraujo, the site will be the former NStar parcel inside the Bremen Street Park at the opposite end of the park from the YMCA closer to Day Square.

The architect chosen, William Rawn Associates, was responsible for the development of the Mattapan Branch Library, which was completed in 2009.

There, William Rawn Associates created an up-to-date library facility, an open reading room, and an outdoor courtyard configuration. The sustainable building merges indoor and outdoor spaces and had redefined the experience of the library there.

There was some controversy following the Boston Public Library’s (BPL) Board of Trustees’ decision to close the Orient Heights Branch Library before another library was constructed in Eastie.

However, after a special meeting by the Board of Trustees and threats from the state legislature to withhold BPL funding unless they kept libraries open, the Board approved a recommendation to delay the planned closure of the Orient Heights Branch.

The recommendation to keep Orient Heights and three other library branches in the city open was brought to the Board of Trustees by Boston Public Library President Amy E. Ryan and included news of additional City of Boston funds earmarked for the library in FY11, which began on July 1. She said the move was to provide the city with more time for planning the re-purposing of the buildings and the delivery of library services in the affected communities.

“We’ve been listening to the community and we understand the desire for more planning time,” said Ryan of the decision. “This extension demonstrates the commitment of the City to keep these facilities open and accessible to the community. We believe that, with continued input from the public, a new use for these buildings can be found.”

In response to the proposed closure, Representative Carlo Basile lead a delegation of twelve state representatives to block $3 million in funding to the Boston Public Library unless its Board of Trustees agrees to keep all 26 branches in the city open.

“This is not about politics, its about doing the right thing for my neighborhood,” said Basile at the time. “People want to see this branch stay open and are not going to rely on promises of a new facility or an improved Meridian Street Branch. This neighborhood needs two libraries.”

City Councilor Sal LaMattina praised the decision to keep the library open and said it was the right thing to do.

Senator Anthony Petruccelli, who was another outspoken opponent to BPL’s plan to close the Orient Heights branch said too much goes into shutting down a facility to do it in such a rushed and haphazard manner.

However, now that a new site has been chosen and an architect picked, DeAraujo said that while the Meridian Street branch would be open until the lights are turned on inside the new facility on Bremen Street he could not say the same for the Orient Heights branch.

While there is no timeline for its closure, the Orient Heights branch will most likely close in the spring and an immediate public process will begin to fill the vacant building.

There’s already been talk of a child day care center or senior center at the location.

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