In a community celebration, the trustees and director of the Bayport-Blue Point Library hosted the ground-breaking ceremony at the former St. Ursula Center’s front lawn on Friday, July …
In a community celebration, the trustees and director of the Bayport-Blue Point Library hosted the ground-breaking ceremony at the former St. Ursula Center’s front lawn on Friday, July 10.
Dramatically designed for the perfect photo ops, the front lawn had a patch of dirt dug out for various community leaders and elected officials to pose with gold-painted shovels.
Two sections were held for photo opportunities to maintain proper social distancing and minimize the crowd.
Nearly a year and half ago, the Bayport-Blue Point community overwhelmingly voted to purchase, refurbish, and rehome their library to the expansive and impressive St. Ursula Center on the corner of Middle Road and Blue Point Avenue.
“We’re very proud of this property, very proud of your support; a year and a half ago we had a public referendum and with a margin of almost 70 percent, the community let us know they wanted us to build a new home, a new future for our library here,” said library trustee Ronnie Devine, who campaigned vigorously for the new site.
Park East Construction, who is handling all the building in the interior and exterior of the site, has already started with heavy machinery to change the landscape of St. Ursula’s to fit the new vision drafted by BBS Architecture.
The central meeting area, to be a vast open reading space upon completion, once held large Catholic Mass services. Stripped of the mid-century oak-stained pews, the room was cavernous and imposing, with its dark-cherry, wood-colored ceiling. Some of the original stained-glass windows remained intact, while others were changed out to allow for more light in the massive space.
“The ability here to have a separate wing for the adult side and a separate wing for the children’s side will allow them to concentrate on those folks,” said Blue Point Community Civic Association head, Edward Silsbe. “Our current library, which is a nice library, has the main entrance go right through the children’s section.”
KJ Harry, a representative of the Blue Point Civic Association (formerly the Blue Point Civic Coalition), attended with her three sons, who were excited over the idea of a new public space. The Blue Point Civic Association was one of the fiercest advocates for the new library and worked in conjunction with the Johnny Mac Foundation to champion the new location.
The Johnny Mac Foundation, whose creation was tied directly to a vision of a community center in Blue Point, was particularly proud of the achievement and will have their central operations housed in a small cottage on the St. Ursula property.
“This ground-breaking is the culmination of many years of hopes and dreams, and a satisfying moment for us personally because it fulfills John’s wish,” said Jennifer McNamara, founder of the Johnny Mac Foundation.
Bayport-Blue Point Chamber president Carol Seitz Cusack was also in attendance, and added that the chamber is “delighted” that the community chose to relocate the library.
“We’re so excited because we work hand-in-hand with the library and civic associations, and in the future envision utilizing the new library for chamber meetings and events,” she added.
While widely celebrated, the new construction has run into problems, namely a sewage issue, but Legis. Rob Calarco (D-7th District) came to the rescue and was able to secure a $250,000 grant for the library to cover costs to address the problem.
Councilman Neil Foley (R-5th District), who was the first to introduce the plan to move the BBP Library to St. Ursula’s following the convent’s dire financial situation, said, “I am so proud of every group and every vote we had fighting for this vision to come to fruition. It is a testament to the bold pride Bayport-Blue Point has for preserving and growing their community.”