CRANBURY: Funding source seen as critical to library project

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By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
Cranbury officials intend to apply for money that the state will make available for library projects around New Jersey, in what is seen as a critical funding source for building a new public library in town.
New Jersey voters last week approved a construction bond referendum allowing the state to issue $125 million in bonds, in making matching funds available through a grant program. But at this stage, Cranbury officials are unable to say how much they will seek.
Township Committeeman Daniel P. Mulligan III, the governing body’s representative to the library, said Monday that the town would “lead the initiative” to obtain the funding.
“We’ll work very closely and partner with the library, obviously,” he said at the Township Committee meeting. “But we’ll want to involve professionals from both sides to make sure we come up with the best possible grant application … that we can so that we can secure the funds.”
He said town administrator Denise Marabello had started researching the steps Cranbury needs to take and timelines for action.
Library director Marilynn Mullen said Tuesday that “we really can’t do much until the (application) criteria comes out.”
This year, the new building project had to be put on hold after construction bids came in higher than what had been anticipated. There was a shortfall of more than $300,000 between what the library had available and the low bid, of around $3 million.
But the state money is a game changer that could see officials propose a more ambitious and expensive project, given the funding is on a one-to-one matching basis. At the moment, Mullen said officials have $2.5 million.
“I don’t think we’ll be asking for that much,” Mullen said, “but I’m not going to say. The township will be calling that, if they are indeed the applicant.”