Library Board looks to November 7th General Election Bond Referendum.

The Library Board and Foundation are cautiously optimistic about an opportunity for Trenton to help us cross the finish line and build a new library.  Our “Plan B” moved one step closer when Governor Christie approved the NJ Library Construction Bond Act in late July, which will appear as Question 1 on the November 7 General Election ballot.  This bill will let voters decide if the state should issue $125 million in bonds to benefit NJ libraries.  Proceeds of the bonds sales will be used to provide matching grants to public libraries to be used on renovation and construction projects.  If NJ voters pass this referendum, the NJ State Library will oversee the grant process.

The NJ Library Construction Bond Act has bi-partisan support of over 50% of the NJ legislature. This referendum is not a tax. The state will repay the bonds out of state revenues and not through local property taxes. Rather, this is an economic bill which will invest in our state and support the economy. Senator Christopher Bateman, (R—Sommerset) was a primary sponsor of the Senate version of this bill.   Known as the watchdog of the Senate he said, “I think this is necessary.  I really do.”

Library Board reluctantly rejects all bids

Kirstie Venanzi, President of the Library Board of Trustees, attended the Township Committee Meeting on Monday, September 11 to clarify the Library Board’s position in regards to accepting bids for the construction of the new library.   At this meeting  she spoke about an email received after the August 14 TC meeting. The email from the Township Administrator and Township Committee stated the legal procedure to accept bids.

“In order to award the bid, the entire contract value of $3,089,197.00 must be certified as funds available.  As of today the only funds available to be certified are the cash in hand of $2,226,461.00 and the $475,000 from the Township.  Even if the Township was willing to waive the contingency and was willing to contribute an additional $91,501 it would take the introduction of a bond ordinance which involves first reading, second reading two weeks later, and then a 21 day estoppel period from the date of advertisement of the adopted ordinance.  This timeline would far exceed September 27th bid acceptance deadline. In addition,  the library would still be short $296,235.00 and legally unable to certify the funds in order to award the bid.”

As such, the Library Board of Trustees voted to reject all bids due to a shortfall in funds on Thursday, September 14 at their monthly meeting.   To read the Resolution 2017-1 go to  under Approved Minutes 2017.


Report to Township Committee

Kirstie Venanzi, President of the Library Board of Trustee, attended the Township Committee Meeting on Monday, August 14 to update the Committee Members on the outcome of the bidding process. She reported:

The Bids were opened publicly in the library on Wednesday, July 26, following the rules of municipal bidding. We had 17 bidders, with total base costs ranging from $3.09 MM to $3.96 MM. The three lowest bidders were given to the architect and lawyer to qualify.

The three lowest bidders did come in all clustered around $ 3.1 MM. This was definitely in the higher range of what we were expecting. With $2.5 MM in the bank, the township site funds, and the township requirement for 5% contingency funds, the cost results in a $400,000 gap before we could break ground.

Click the image below to see a breakout of costs and funds.

The bid packet included several “options” such as millwork and a new circulation desk, but the base bids represented the minimum required to build an operational public library and community center. We do not see any option to reduce the scope of the project without incurring significant additional architecture and engineering costs.

The Library Board has until September 27 to respond to the bids. We plan on taking this full amount of time in order to allow the architect and the lawyer to vet the lowest bidders. This time also allows the foundation to continue to raise funds.

The township also asked for information on our donors.  The chart below shows the strong base of community support for the new library.

The Library Project Bids are In

The construction bids for the new library and community center were opened on July 26. The Library Board and Foundation are assessing options to proceed.

On Wednesday, July 26, seventeen bids for the new library project were received and opened in a public meeting in the current public/school library.  “We’ve been working towards a cost estimate for some time, and now we know the amount to proceed,” said Library Board President, Kirstie Venanzi. “While we hoped to have enough today to move forward, there is a gap of about $400,000 before we can accept the bid and award the contract. We are exploring options to see if we can complete the funding for the project in the next 90 days.”

While the Library Board assesses how to close the $400,000 gap, the library’s architect and attorney will review and qualify the lowest bid. The Library Board will report the results at the Township Committee meeting on Monday, August 14 at 7:00 p.m. in Town Hall.  “We are asking our supporters to attend the meeting and let the Committee know how important this project is to them,” said Marilynn Mullen, Library Director.

The project might be helped over the finish line with some support from Trenton: last week, Governor Christie signed the NJ Library Construction Bond Act, placing it on the general election ballot in November. If approved, the act could provide matching funds for approved library construction projects in New Jersey. Timing and criteria for this project will be determined by the State Librarian.

“I was hoping we would be finished the major fundraising,” said Michael Ferrante, Library Foundation President, “but now we have clarity on exactly how far we are from the finish line. I am confident of our ability to reach our goal. All of Cranbury will benefit from this new community space.”

Donations to help close the gap can be dropped off at the library.  For more information check our Ways to Give page.  Over 700 Cranbury households, businesses, and civic organizations have contributed to the cause. The final phase of the campaign is the “champion brick program” where people can choose an inscription for a brick to be placed where the new building meets the 14-acre open space.

The public library has shared a space with the Cranbury School media center since the late 1960s. After acknowledging this arrangement didn’t meet the needs of either group, a foundation was set up in 2009 to raise funds for a stand-alone library and community center. The Cranbury Public Library Foundation, along with capital reserves from the Library Board, have raised $2.63 MM through private donations towards the construction of a new building. In the last twelve months, the project completed all township reviews, and the Cranbury Township Committee agreed to fund an adjacent municipal parking lot.

Time to buy a brick!

I know you’ve heard the exciting news – the new library project is out to bid!  July 26th at 11:00 a.m. is the public opening of the bids when we find out if we have sufficient funds to break ground.  We need only $140,000 more to reach our goal of $2.75M! That is why we urging everyone to donate now. 

There is still time to buy a brick!  You can place a brick order on the Website at  Pay by check or credit card.  You can pay for your brick now, then choose the inscription later (once you’ve settled on the perfect wording).

Please help us reach our goal!