The new $41.5 million Queens Public Library branch at Hunters Point, where design flaws have made it a target of critics since opening in September, could get even more expensive thanks to a new lawsuit demanding improvements to help disabled patrons.
In a class-action lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court, disabilities advocates say that Queens Public Library violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act by failing to ensure that disabled patrons will have equal access to all parts of the new branch.
When the branch opened, a three-tiered fiction section only had a single staircase leading up to it and was unreachable by the building’s single elevator.
The plaintiffs, the Center for the Independence of the Disabled and a Queens woman with mobility issues, say disabled people are also unable to reach the branch’s rooftop terrace and a reading space on the children’s floor.
The plaintiffs are calling on the library to “swiftly” execute plans to remove barriers to equal access to areas within the Hunters Point branch.
The suit was filed just two months after the 32,000-square foot library was opened to the public — at which point library officials hailed it as a “stunning architectural marvel” and a “beacon of learning, literacy and culture.”
“The newly-built Hunters Point Library was designed and built with a total disregard for adults and children with mobility disabilities and in flagrant contempt of the legal requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act,” the 21-page lawsuit states.