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.