By Rob Abruzzese
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Brooklyn Public Library has more money than it’s letting on, according to a new organization called Love Brooklyn Libraries (LBL).
LBL was created in an effort to keep the Brooklyn Heights Library from being sold and developed. Aiming to prove its allegations, the group has filed a complaint with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, accusing the library of misrepresenting its capital funds for a real estate grab.
“The Brooklyn Public Library is hiding the money so that they can do the real estate deal," said LBL President Marsha Rimler. [Update: According to LBL, as of Feb. 8 Rimler is no longer with the organization.]
The group was formally announced at an Independent Neighborhood Democrats meeting at St. Francis College last Thursday, Jan. 21. Laurie Frey, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, was chosen as vice president for her experience in a similar fight with a couple of schools in her area. Other community members include Martha Ramos, Sandra Balboza and Ken Diamondstone.
"Brooklyn Public Library is Pinocchio sitting on a pile of money,” said Frey. “Their nose keeps getting longer and longer every time they say 'We don't have enough. We need more.’ Love Brooklyn Libraries is calling for the truth. It's a shame when we can't trust our local elected officials, which is why LBL had to file a complaint with the state attorney general."
LBL sent a complaint to Schneiderman earlier last week, which accused the library of misleadingly reporting only a small portion of its total capital funding. The library has claimed to have received a total of $84 million from Fiscal Year 2008 through Fiscal Year 2013, but LBL claims that its own research shows a budget of $145 million over the same time span.
“We have discovered through tremendous amounts of research that the library illegally falsified their application,” Rimler said. “They in fact have the money that they said they did not have.”
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) insisted that it stands by the process that led up to the approval of the Heights branch by the City Council.
"The plan to build a new Brooklyn Heights Library was approved after a transparent and rigorous public review process, and we look forward to moving ahead on creating a world class library for the Brooklyn Heights community," said the spokesperson.
The sale of the library was approved by the City Council last December, but LBL plans to continue the fight to keep the sale from going through. The sale still needs to be approved by the Brooklyn Borough Board, which consists of all City Councilmembers as well as the chair of every community board in Brooklyn. That meeting will take place Feb. 2. LBL also plans to meet with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams’ counsel this week.
“You may think the issue is over, and they would like you to think that, but it's not,” Rimler said. “This is far from over. We have the borough board on Feb. 2 and we hope something happens there. If it doesn't, there are other remedies that we are exploring.”
Though the IND is not part of the complaint, the group's opposition to the library sale has its support.
"We have found great discomfort in the sale of public assets for one-stop funding of improvements,” IND President Larry Gulotta said. “We know this is complicated and we know it's not going away, but I can announce that the councilman for the district, Mr. Stephen Levin, will be speaking to IND in the near future. Bring your questions, bring your insights and bring your cup to the meeting.”