A new Cranbury library: This year’s big story is likely next year’s big story

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By Philip Sean Curran, Staff Writer
In 2017, a plan to build a public library in Cranbury got put on hold, followed later in the year by news that state funding would be available to help make the project a reality.
The proposal to construct the building went out to bid in June, with library officials confident of their cost estimates for a project that, at the time, they had raised $2.59 million for.
“Until you go out to bid, you really don’t know,” library director Marilynn G. Mullen said in June.
Seventeen construction companies bid on the project, with all their bids coming in at less than $4 million. But the low bid was more than what had been raised. The disparity, dashing hopes of breaking ground on the project in September, led officials to reject all the bids.
“We have over seven hundred people that have donated, and that’s a big part of the community,” Mullen said. “And I think there’s a lot of people behind the project and I don’t think that they’re going to want to see it die, really, because there’s so much community support for the project.”
The actual gap depended on whom one asked. Library officials said the amount was around $322,000, while the township said the shortfall was $387,000.
Attention turned to the outcome of a statewide referendum that would be on the ballot in November. If approved, the state would float $125 million in bonds to help pay for library projects. To officials, seeing that referendum pass was critical.
“Let’s work together to get the funding passed in November,” said Township Committeeman Daniel P. Mulligan III during a Township Committee meeting when the issue came up. “So if we can get that money from the state and to help fund the library project, it’s a homerun for us all.”
In October, the governing body voted for a resolution supporting the ballot question “and urging voters to approve the same.”
As it turned, voters in New Jersey knocked the ballot question out of the park and passed the referendum.
Cranbury officials said afterward that they would seek state funding from the grant program.