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Bayport-Blue Point Library expects to open in former convent in two years

Inside the chapel at the St. Ursula Center

Inside the chapel at the St. Ursula Center in Blue Point on Dec. 5, 2018. The convent is the future site of a new Bayport-Blue Point Library. Credit: Randee Daddona

The Bayport-Blue Point Public Library has completed its $3.65 million purchase of the St. Ursula Center convent, which is expected to become the library's new home in about two years.

Library officials on Monday took title to the 8.27-acre property on Middle Road in Blue Point, two months after voters approved a $16.85 million plan to purchase the site and convert the convent into a new library.

Officials have said the 18-year bond to finance construction would cost the average taxpayer an additional $228 annually. The current library on Blue Point Avenue in Blue Point is expected to be sold after the new one opens.

Library board president Ronald F. Devine Jr. said Wednesday that architects "are still refining the plans" to turn the convent into a 28,573-square-foot library with special reading rooms for children and teenagers. Those plans must be approved by the state Department of Education.

“This is the next chapter on the road to provide our Bayport-Blue Point community with a world-class library for generations to come,” Devine said.

The Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk put the convent up for sale two years ago, citing a dwindling group of aging nuns who could no longer care for the facility. The sisters initially struck a deal to sell the property for $5.3 million to Westhampton Beach-based Seafield Center, which planned to open a drug rehabilitation center or sober house there. Seafield withdrew its offer amid community opposition.

Proceeds from the sale to the library will pay off debts and finance new homes and continuing care for the nuns, Sister Joanne Callahan said, adding the sale was completed "very smoothly and very quickly."

“We’re very glad that we finally came to an agreement with the library, and we’re very hopeful that it will get finished so we can go back and see what our house will look like in the future,” Callahan said. 

The new library will be more than double the size of the current 13,325-square-foot facility, which officials said had become cramped and did not comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Library officials have said they plan to seek state grants to help pay for renovations to the convent.

The new library will use the convent's chapel as a reading room. The new site will offer 104 parking spaces, compared to the current library's 62 spaces.

Devine said he hopes to receive a building permit from the state education department by the end of the year. Construction should begin next year, and officials hope to open the new library by spring 2021, Devine said.

He said he plans to meet with Suffolk County officials to discuss selling part of the property in a wetlands area for open space preservation.


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