CRANBURY: Placement of parking lot at new library is questioned

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By Vita Duva, Correspondent
As the Cranbury Public Library forges ahead with its plans to implement a new building and municipal parking lot off of North Main Street, the organization has already hit a roadblock – one with the residents of Cranbury Township.
While residents in town have spoken in favor of the overall project at previously held CPL Planning Board meetings and a Cranbury Township Committee meeting, many object to the parking lot’s placement at the end of Park Place West and in the vista to the right.
“The idea was that one would see the edge of the building and the vista as they were coming down Park Place West,“ said Kirstie Venanzi, president of the Cranbury Public Library Board of Trustees.
Since the municipality owns the library, the placement of the parking lot in question was at the request of both the Township Committee and the CPL Planning Board.
“I understand both sides of the issue when it comes to the library and the location of the parking lot,” said Committee Member, David Cook.
But residents proposed an alternate design that would place the parking lot in front of the building, instead of along the side.
“This proposed change would be a more condensed use of space, leaving room for the green space and passive recreation, as well as a potential soccer field,” said Ms. Venanzi. “We are hopeful that this proposed new location is feasible, but I cannot say for certain that it will be moving to this location.
“[These meetings] have been good examples of why Cranbury is a great community – people care. Cranbury is a unique town in so many ways. We have a farming history, and a designated historic district. We love our open space, we enjoy our preserved farmland and we have an outstanding K-8 school,” said Ms. Venanzi.
“I am happy to say that both parties wanted to find a middle ground. The proposal made was agreeable to both parties contingent on a few outstanding issues concerning land easements and engineering constraints,” said Mr. Cook. “I believe in the library and its mission to serve all of the town’s residents, young and old. With that in mind, I am very pleased that the library and town residents were able to engage in a process that looks promising in leading to a solution.”
Cranbury has had a municipal public library since 1906. It wasn’t until the baby boom from the 1940s through the 1960s that the town experienced growth, and a need for expansion.
In 1969, The Cranbury School merged with the library, sharing its building space as it is known today.
According to Ms. Venanzi, the township has long had a new library in its Master Plan.
“This was always supposed to be a temporary measure and has worked remarkably well,” said Ms. Venanzi. “The space no longer meets the needs of our town. There is not enough room for both a 21st century school library and a public library.”
In cooperation with the Township Committee, the library took on the task of raising the money necessary for the project’s engineering site work. To date, the Cranbury Public Library Foundation has raised and saved $2.2. million. 