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Word up on this library

Bronx Times

The building’s name is the Van Nest Pelham Library. But for over 40 years it has sat at Barnes Ave., a block from Pelham Parkway South, indisputably Pelham Parkway territory.

Now locals are pushing for their nearby New York Public Library branch to get book smart and add one little important word to reflect the neigborhood it serves.

Residents are now distributing a petition for the library to be renamed the Van Nest-Pelham Parkway Library.

“Morris Park has the Morris Park Library, Allerton has the Allerton Library, but Van Nest Library is in Pelham Parkway,” said Edith Blitzer, president of the Pelham Parkway Neighborhood Association (PPNA), which authored the petition. “It’s not Van Nest. It’s Pelham Parkway.”

Adding one word

She’s hoping library officials simply add that all-important “Parkway” word to reflect her beloved neighorhood.

“The only thing that would cost them is the sign,” Blitzer argued.

The branch re-located to Barnes Avenue in 1967 from its original locale at Rhinelander Ave. in Van Nest, but the naming slight remained quiet for years, until Blitzer launched her blitz for the name change.

She’s intensified pressure for the name inclusion in the past two years, bringing the matter to Community Board 11.

Blitzer’s campaign is driven by community pride for Pelham Parkway, the leafy residential neighborhood she’s long considered overlooked.

These days, there have been increased efforts to “put Pelham Parkway on the map,” with several community festivals, such as the first-ever Halloween Parade and last year’s holiday lights sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and Senator Jeff Klein.

Political support for PPNA’s latest endeavor has been strong. Back in 2011, CB11 forwarded a letter to the New York Public Library’s Board of Trustees, asking the panel to consider the request.

Even the Van Nest Neighborhood Alliance penned its own letter supporting the name change. Since 2006, folks from Van Nest have also used the nearby Morris Park branch on Morris Park. Ave.

But the library’s Board of Trustees has not budged. Changing the traditional name would just cause more confusion, since there is already a Pelham Bay branch, argued Angela Montefinse, Public Library Director Of Media Relations, in an email.

But the Pelham Bay branch is over three miles west of the Van Nest-Pelham branch.

The Trustees will meet for the final time this year on Nov. 20 in Manhattan.

In the meantime, the local library plans to keep providing services for whoever walks in, regardless of neighborhood affilation.

“I bet most people around here don’t even know what the name is,” said branch manager David Nochimson. “To them, it’s just the library.”

David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383

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