Update on Library Construction Project

The new library in Cranbury is steadily moving forward! The Cranbury Public Library and the Cranbury Township Committee are partnering to apply for the new state construction bond to secure the remaining funding for the Cranbury Library project and breaking ground in 2018. A new construction program, the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act, was overwhelmingly approved by New Jersey voters on November 7 (In Cranbury, the program passed 2-to-1). This program will make $125 million available for public library construction projects: to build new and/or expanded library buildings, as well as rehabilitate or make improvements to libraries to make them more energy efficient and/or ADA compliant.

Now that Governor Murphy has been inaugurated, a program office has been set up at the New Jersey State Library (NJSL) to administer the construction bond program. The funding criteria is being finalized, which will be followed by an open comment period. According to the new program director, the application window may open as early as May and will be open for three months. The program requires local matching in order to be awarded funds; prior expenditures do not count towards this local matching.

The Cranbury Library Foundation has raised approximately $2.5 MM toward the project through 700+ resident and corporate donations; Cranbury Township has allocated $475,000 for site work and a new municipal parking lot adjacent to the proposed building. Architectural drawing and site engineering is complete, so the project is considered “shovel ready,” which should make it an attractive candidate for this state construction program. Last summer, before the library construction bond act was signed by then-Governor Christie, the project went out to bid through a public bidding process. The lowest bids were approximately $400,000 more than available funds, so the bids were rejected. The library construction bond is considered the best path forward to complete the project in 2018.

“We are excited that the New Jersey State Library is moving forward with this important program for the libraries of our state,” explained Cranbury Public Library Director Marilynn Mullen. “Many of New Jersey’s libraries are in desperate need of infrastructure upgrades.” Cranbury is now the last combined public/school library in New Jersey, a model favored in the 1950s and 1960s that has been phased out over the past 50 years due the divergent missions and security requirements of public and school libraries. We hope that between the significant funds raised to date and the shovel-ready design, our project will meet the criteria for this library construction program.

Michael Ferrante, Foundation President