CRANBURY: New library plans still unfolding

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By Vita Duva, Correspondent
As of late, the Cranbury Public Library has continued to work hand-in-hand with concerned residents of Cranbury Township in light of the organization’s plans to implement a new building and municipal parking lot off of North Main Street.
Kirstie Venanzi, president of the Cranbury Public Library Board of Trustees gave an up-to-date report to the Cranbury Township Committee during its bi-monthly meeting Oct. 24. According to Ms. Venanzi, the CPL Planning Board unanimously approved an alternate layout design for the capital project during a recently held CPL Planning Board meeting,
“This [decision] was very well received by everyone in town,” said Ms. Venanzi.
The new and improved design places the parking lot in front of the library’s new building instead of along the side. This resolution comes after a number of Cranbury residents strongly objected to the original placement of the parking lot – at the end of the Park Place West and in the vista to the right. Ultimately, there was an outcry from residents who hoped to see the vista preserved, as opposed to developed.
“The open space here, was and is and remains, an important gem to so many of us that know about it,” Cranbury resident Michele Gittings said during public comment. “We lose a lot [of the open space], but as a plus, we bring more people to it. We look forward to using that space with the people of the library, the patrons of the library and the community. It’s not just a vista, it’s a space that is used.”
However, this alternate layout is contingent on some unresolved issues concerning land easements and engineering constraints.
While the library has proposed the use of a bio retention basin – or rain garden – with the help of Paul Mullen, member of the Cranbury Environmental Commission, as well as a back-up plan, which avoids a need to build in the property easement, the library still doesn’t have a definitive plan.
“We’re getting a lot of information right now,” Mayor Dan Mulligan said, stepping in the conversation. “This is a lot for me to take in, to be very frank.”
Mayor Mulligan went on to say that recent feedback suggested that the Township Committee has not been transparent enough with the public concerning the library’s on-going project. He hopes to change that in the coming month.
Mayor Mulligan hopes to recruit the help of Township Engineer, Bill Tanner, along with representatives from the traffic, parks and recreation departments, in order to make an informed decision.
“I’m not saying they’re all going to show up, but we’ll try so we can have one conversation and get this done,” said the mayor.
The Township Committee plans to hold a work session concerning this issue during one of their next two agendas.
In Other News:
– Committee member, James “Jay” Taylor congratulated Cranbury Township’s Recycling Coordinator Linda Scott for obtaining an $81,000 grant for recycling tonnage. “Congratulations to all of us for recycling, and congratulations to Linda for attainting [the grant] and looking for an alternative financial resource,” said Mr. Taylor.
– Mayor Mulligan gave a presentation on the township’s recent decision to implement the use of social media. “We’ve heard some feedback recently that people are having a hard time getting information about what is going on in town,” said the mayor. As previously reported, the township recently created a Facebook page in order to piggyback off its existing informational website and email blasts. The township hopes to keep its finger on the pulse of today’s ever-changing communication landscape as officials continue to explore the possibility of adding additional social media channels to the repertoire. “It’s just another way of communicating information to our residents,” Mayor Mulligan said.
– Cranbury’s Chief Financial Officer Denise Marabello gave an updated report on the approximate 115 trees in the Four Seasons at Historic Cranbury that have been infested with Emerald Ash Borer. The Shade Tree Commission has requested that these trees be removed prior to March of next year, so that they do not continue to worsen and spread to other trees. According to Ms. Marabello, the township received a quote of $30,000 for the removal of these trees. “We’ll discuss this at budget time, and we’ll have to approve that removal prior to acknowledgement of the budget if we are going to do it,” said Ms. Marabello.
– The Township Committee passed an ordinance – upon second reading – revising and amending the regulations pertaining to the Highway Commercial and General Commercial Zones in Chapter 150: “Land Development” in the Code of the Township of Cranbury. As previously reported, the purpose of this ordinance was to reexamine the permitted uses and development standards of the HC and GC districts in Cranbury Township, and to recommend changes intended to spur new development and redevelopment along the Route 130 corridor that will promote the purposes of the Cranbury Master Plan and the Municipal Land Use Law.
– The next Township Committee meeting is slated for Monday, Nov. 14, at 7