A library that combines higher-mindedness with nature

Bayport-Blue Point Library slated to open Dec. 18

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The 2,604-square-foot Reading Sanctuary at the new home of the Bayport-Blue Point Library is aptly named. Formerly used by the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk as their chapel, it still exudes calm, but now has a brighter look. The wood walls and ceiling have been painted and there are a dozen high-backed barrel chairs, covered in a soft blue-grey, set around small white tables. The skylight remained, bathing the room in light, along with its windows. Six of the blue stained-glass windows remain; the rest are clear.

The new library is poised for its grand opening on Saturday, Dec. 18 at 11 a.m. And grand it will be.

The building offers a seamless melding of reading and activities for adults, teens and children, as it embraces the beach essence nearby. And let’s not forget the café. Michelle Gillette-Kelly, owner of Mademoiselle Patchogue, is the Mademoiselle in the Library vendor.

“We’ll have popular fiction in this room; also, new items and biographies here,” said BBP Library director Mike Firestone of the Reading Sanctuary. It looks out over the approximate quarter-mile walking trail and the Nature Discovery Center, with its seven learning areas and its arbor. From there, a door leads outside or to the Adult Reference Room, with its quiet studies area above.

“You don’t hear any cars,” said BBP Library Board president Ron Devine. “It’s very tranquil.” Devine confessed he rides past the library regularly, even if it takes him out of the way.

All in all, 86,655 books will make their home here. Library hours will begin earlier, 9 a.m., catering to early birds.

Firestone said the library has 11 full-timers and 40 part-timers. As for any new staff, “we’ll get settled and see how things play out,” he said.

An outdoor tour was led by Firestone with Devine and Brookhaven councilman Neil Foley. He pointed out community involvement included the Girl Scout Gold Star project for a Free Library stand being constructed and Eagle Scout projects like the bat houses on the grounds, and also the Nature Discovery Center arbor.

There were two attractive elevated lawn areas on the property covering alternate wastewater systems. “Suffolk County gave us a $250,000 grant supplied by legislators Rob Calarco and Anthony Piccirillo,” Firestone said. The walking trail around the perimeter of the property remained, a little less than a quarter mile. It will have 23 fitness stations.

“We just received a wedding request to be conducted here,” said Firestone, looking over the green expanse.

The 29,900-square-foot building on 8.27 acres of property in Blue Point off Middle Road, offered a needed bump up from the existing one at 13,325 feet. Stacks in the children’s section of the old BBP Library were too tall for little ones to reach books they wanted on upper shelves, and the Teen Room was a 6-by-8-foot corner with two desks. Now, the children’s section is about 10,000 square feet. The Teen Room is just inside the front of the building, near the courtyard, with booth-style seating and plenty of computers, and the Tween Room (grades 4,5,6) is in the children’s services section with an area for books and materials geared towards that age group.  

It’s been a nail-biting time for Firestone and Devine; steel promised four months ago for the stacks finally came in a couple of weeks ago. Firestone said they passed their fire inspection last week and applied to New York State Education for their certificate of occupancy.

A light grey, blue, and beige color scheme is carried throughout the new library building and there are Makers Spaces on the first and second floor and a music room.

The library was approved by a bond referendum vote taken in 2018 and approved by residents 2 to 1.

The property, purchased from the St. Ursula Sisters of Tildonk in 2018, who originally made it their home in 1935, cost $3.65 million, with construction costing $13.2 million. Grants raised to help with library costs tallied in at $1.2 million.

Overwhelming community resistance to what the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk had proposed, the Seafield Center, a 76-bed drug and alcohol treatment facility for women, caused Seafield to pull out.

Councilman Foley helped the library steer its course. “I’ve been involved with this project since Day One,” Foley said. “It’s nearly 9 acres of pristine property; the community didn’t want a project that would bring in more housing or density here and it’s near the water. This was an opportunity to save the building, preserve property, and help educate kids.”

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