Bayport-Blue Point Public Library construction has begun on a former convent in Bayport that will serve as the new home of the library.

In December 2018, library district residents had approved the $16.85 million project through a referendum, and it recently broke ground on Friday morning. A total of 1,758-835 votes were cast to authorize the purchase of the 8.27-acre convent property on Middle Road for $3.65 million. A refurbishment of the property is estimated to cost another $13.2 million.

Bayport-Blue Point Public Library officials said the new library is expected to open by fall 2021, after 12 to 15 months of construction. This new library covers an area of 28,573 square feet and will replace the current library, which is about a mile away on Blue Point Avenue.  After the ceremony library board president Ronald F. Devine Jr., of Bayport, said in an interview: "We are under construction. Now construction crews are in the building." “There is much progress being made. We are moving forward."

Those participating in the two groundbreaking ceremonies followed social distancing guidelines.

This groundbreaking ceremony marks a major milestone in replacing the library, which was built in the 1960s and expanded around 1990. Officials said the current building does not meet federal accessibility requirements, requires expensive repairs, and does not properly accommodate the disabled. Construction was delayed by four to six weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, Bayport-Blue Point Public Library director Mike Firestone said. In March, just as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered shutdown of non-essential businesses, which included most construction projects, officials were preparing to award construction contracts, Firestone said.

“Part of it was not knowing when construction would resume,” he said. In the month following the industry's reopening last month, Firestone said contracts were awarded in time to plan construction.

Officials from the Library agreed on the purchase of the St. Ursula Center convent in 2018 from the Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, a religious order whose membership was declining as the nuns aged and died. It was decided to use the proceeds from the sale to find new homes for the remaining nuns. Libraries, community centers, areas for children and adolescents, as well as meeting rooms will be housed in the convent. There will be a new entrance, looking out onto Middle Road.

Officials intend to donate wetlands on the property to the county to preserve them as open space.
Suffolk County's $250,000 grant will pay for the installation of a septic system to replace cesspools currently on the site, Devine said. 

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