Come on down to the new (wowee!) library

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By 11 a.m. when Bayport-Blue Point Library Director Mike Firestone stepped up to the podium in the Raymond Davis Community Room, it was standing room only. People flowed into the two hallways in the outer areas and even stood outside the windows. “We had over 500 people in the building prior to noon and over 1,000 people by 3 p.m.,” Firestone said.
The library’s grand opening Saturday morning was a testament to a community’s love for what evolved. Once a holy place on Middle Road in Blue Point where the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk lived and worked, tended to the community, and then to their own who needed medical assistance, it’s now it’s a gorgeous modern library where residents can check out books, read, make crafts, bring their little ones, and know it’s a safe place for young adults to read, research and work on projects.
Amidst the speeches, Firestone commented that the library’s actualization was the biggest privilege of his professional career, and library board president Ron Devine thanked Firestone for his eye on the prize through thick and thin. Councilman Neil Foley received gratitude for his steady steering and follow through, financial supporters like the Knapp-Swezey Foundation, library board members, staff, volunteers, civic groups, Friends of the B-BP Library, those in construction involved with the beautiful renovations and necessary installations and especially the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk were all cited.
There were standing ovations and cheers.
Councilman Neil Foley provided a chronicle of the new library’s journey of when Sr. Joanne Callahan, Province Leader of the Ursuline Sisters, U.S. Province, first contacted him about the sale of the 8.27 acre property. And then when he had to inform her, “We couldn’t change the zoning,” he related. “I had to make the call and thought I’d be struck by lightning.” He wasn’t and eventually, the Sisters agreed to the purchase price offered.
In December two years ago, he said, 11,000 people voted and residents voted for it.
But additional personal stories were interspersed in the gathering.
One included Jack Harrison, who steered the original wheel barrel used to first collect books in the streets of Blue Point when a library in the community was just a thought bubble. (The library first opened in 1935.) Jack was tapped for the wheel barrel honor because he spoke eloquently at a board meeting in support of the new location; the first book donated was held up.
Two town supervisors attended, along with other county and town officials, including Islip Town’s Angie Carpenter. Brookhaven supervisor Ed Romaine revealed his family moved to the end of Third Avenue in Bayport in 1946 after his father returned from World War II and married his mother. Romaine also lived on Candee and Maple avenues in Sayville.
“These are all streets I know,” he said. He also praised the new library. “It’s a tremendous thing for the community and a great use of an architectural gem,” he said. “You can be transported to another world and get a different perspective here.”
Former assistant library director Jocelyn Mcintee drove all the way from Hillsdale, New York to make the grand opening. “I wouldn’t miss this for the world,” she said.
Bayport Civic Association president Bob Draffin remembered taking out his first book with his mother at the library on Blue Point Avenue in 1965, “Curious George.”
He uses the library mostly as a meeting place now. “Tuesday night we’ll have our civic meeting here,” he said, noting they just made their 20-year anniversary mark.
Some of the Ursuline Sisters attended. Like Sister Laurentine Morgan, who entered the novitiate in 1962, and performed reiki services in the little house that used to be on the grounds. Her dog, Honey, was a gentle presence who made people feel better.
Sister Mary Lou Tressy said she’d been to the new library site a few times and got a tour.
Even though the grand opening ceremony began at 11 a.m., the parking lot was half full at least a half hour before, with people streaming in. Staffer Wendy Bennett said by 9 a.m., due to the dreary weather, they decided to hold the celebration inside.
Programs and talks took place throughout the day with tours for those interested and residents went outside to view the nature walk.

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