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Long Beach library to survey patrons on West End branch

The West End Branch of the Long Beach

The West End Branch of the Long Beach Public Library at 810 West Beech St. in Long Beach. (Sept. 12, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Long Beach library officials plan to canvass residents about what to do with the West End library, which superstorm Sandy shuttered last year.

The library system's lease for the tiny library, which occupied about 1,000 square feet in a rented building on West Beech Street before Sandy wiped it out, ends in February.

The library system plans to send surveys to West End residents later this year to gauge interest in reopening the branch, which is one of the system's two satellites, said Warren Vegh, a library trustee.

"We have to do the right thing for the community, the right thing for the taxpayer," Vegh said. "The feedback we get, that's how we'll act."

The West End has had a library branch for more than 60 years, a city historian has said. The family that leases the building to the city has repaired the facility since Sandy, but the storm destroyed all materials in the one-floor library.

Surveys will likely go out before the end of the year, Vegh said, adding that the library system wants to wait for more residents to finish rebuilding and return to the neighborhood. Sandy hit the West End hard, and many residents are still out of their homes.

The library system, which has a $3.4 million annual budget, pays the building's owners $1,800 per month for its use. The system is subleasing the property to Project Hope, which pays $250 per month, and Sustainable Long Island, which is housed for free, said George Trepp, the system director.

"In an attempt to assist the community with services, the library is receptive to any type of community use," Trepp said.

West End resident Diane Parr said she supports the idea of canvassing residents, and believes the library branch should reopen. The rebuilding West End needs more services, she said. "It certainly can't hurt the community," Parr said.

John Bendo, president of the West End Neighbors Civic Association, said the library suffered from declining usage before Sandy. But he thinks it's worth saving. "If there are people that will utilize it, it would be a nice thing to have," Bendo said.

Trustees will have to decide by February on renewing the lease.


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