A Library With a Past Ponders Its Future
A home for strays or youth programs?
TWO years ago, a lanky teenager named Adolfo Abreu who lives in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx got involved in a campaign to turn the shuttered Fordham Library Center into a youth center. Unhappy about the dearth of activities available to him and his friends, he spent months rallying support for the cause, only to learn in late May that the city was eyeing the former library for use as an animal shelter.
“I felt like, wow, they care more about animals than us?” said Adolfo, a high school freshman who serves as the president of Sistas and Brothas United, the youth branch of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, a local organization. “We’ve been fighting for this for years. That part of the Bronx is like a wasteland, and having an animal shelter isn’t going to improve it.”
The former library, a handsome three-story red brick building with arched windows, sits on a downtrodden block of Bainbridge Avenue near Fordham Road’s bustling retail corridor. It has been locked since 2005, shortly before the new $50 million Bronx Library Center opened one block to the west.
Adolfo Abreu isn’t the only one with grand visions for the building. Members of local community groups have envisioned the nearly 30,000-square-foot former library as outfitted with a computer lab, a boxing ring and an art studio, and accommodating activities like after-school tutoring.
The city’s health department is working to open animal shelters in Queens and the Bronx, which currently have only pet receiving centers. The agency has a contract with New York City Animal Care and Control, a nonprofit group, to operate shelters.
Jessica Scaperotti, a department spokeswoman, confirmed that the agency was considering the former Fordham Library as a site for a shelter, but said there was no timetable for the plan. The issue was reported in The Norwood News, a local newspaper.
Despite potential obstacles, leaders of the effort to turn the old library into a youth center said they would soldier ahead. Among them is Fernando Cabrera, the pastor of New Life Outreach International in Kingsbridge Heights.
“There are plenty of other places an animal shelter would be suitable,” Mr. Cabrera said. “The community isn’t going to stand for that here.”Adolfo Abreu, Bainbridge Avenue, Bronx Living, Bronx Neighborhood News, Bronx News, DEP, Fordham Library Center, Fordham Road, Health Department, Kingsbridge Heights, New York City Animal Care and Control, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Sistas and Brothas United, The Norwood News, West Bronx