A bake sale this Saturday organized by seniors and staff at Astor Place won’t be the official kickoff for a fundraising campaign to renovate the Astoria Library, but it will be the first formal event focused on bringing in money for the project.
After years of discussion about what should be done about the library, the Astoria City Council voted in May to pursue a $5 million renovation rather than build a new building. The city has already set aside $150,000 for design work and maintenance issues, as well as $1.6 million for future construction. Work on the library is expected to begin in 2019.
The library’s foundation will be leading the main fundraising efforts and hopes to raise $3.5 million for renovation work — a doable amount, said Willis Van Dusen, a former mayor who is president of the foundation.
The foundation plans to hold a kickoff event on Oct. 8, coinciding with the library’s 50th birthday.
In the meantime, Mayor Arline LaMear hopes the Astor Place bake sale will encourage other groups to step forward and hold fundraising events of their own.
For Astor Place residents and staff, the bake sale this weekend is a way to give back to the community, said Allannah Warren, the assisted living facility’s community relations manager. They will be drawing on family, traditional and favorite recipes, using the facility’s kitchen. Ultimately, they hope to partner with other groups, including the Astoria Senior Center, to hold frequent community fundraisers.
Astor Place resident and former teacher Marlene Bennett has been a lifelong user of libraries, and remembers taking her students to the local library. A library is more than just a place to find books, she said, it’s a community space.
“I’m just 100 percent for libraries,” she said. “You think of a library as just books. It’s a lot more than that. It’s part of a child’s life. It should be.”
The bake sale will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Astor Place, located near the Astoria Middle School at 999 Klaskanine Ave. LaMear and Astoria Library Director Jimmy Pearson will be at the fundraiser to answer questions.