An effort to remove mold and to make repairs in the building that houses the Tinton Falls Public Library could cost $385,000.
That was the assessment offered on Oct. 30 by Mike Skudera, Tinton Falls’ business administrator, who said the cost of the cleanup could surpass the minimum estimate of $187,000 that was provided by T&M Associates in August.
The library, which is presently closed, is in the building that is located at 664 Tinton Ave.
Skudera said the minimum estimate would only cover the priority improvements necessary for the building to reopen after mold was discovered at the location by Department of Public Works employees more than one year ago.
The Tinton Falls Public Library is an independent organization and is the only tenant in the building, which is owned by the borough.
The report prepared by T&M Associates states that mold was discovered in a trailer behind the library that was being used for various purposes. Mold was also found in the basement of the building, which is a former home, and on the first level of the building.
The minimum estimate does not account for enhancements that could include new flooring and an addition to the building, Skudera said. Renovations beyond the necessary improvements are additional items for consideration that were outlined in a report prepared by T&M Associates.
Skudera said municipal officials plan to apply for a New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act grant to fund a portion of the project costs. He said state officials are delaying release of the grant requirements for reasons he said are unknown.
He said borough officials have allocated $150,000 from the municipal budget to fund repairs to the library. He said $37,000 was allocated from the New Jersey Library Association. Skudera said he anticipates the state could match the $187,000.
“Our side is ready and waiting,” he said. “We don’t even have the grant to look at right now. We don’t have any grant requirements.”
Once the application for a grant is submitted, Skudera said, it is possible the grant could be denied by state officials. He said if that occurs, the cleanup would be carried out with the funds reserved from the budget and the library association.
“We have money reserved, but it would only take care of the necessities,” Skudera said.
If state officials match the $187,000, necessary repairs and additional items would be completed before the library reopens to the public, he said.
The T&M Associates report states that “based on our investigation, we believe the cause of the mold spores in the air and on the wall surface are the result of poor heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC). The existing HVAC system is outdated and no longer functioning properly.”
The trailer on the property has been identified as a key source of the mold problem and will be removed, according to the report.
Engineers from T&M Associates have recommended the installation of a new HVAC system and upgrades to the electrical service to support the new ventilation system.
“We believe this will alleviate the current moisture issues,” T&M Associates said.
T&M Associates provided the following preliminary estimates: remove existing trailer and repair wall, $10,000; remove existing surface mold (no cost if DPW can perform the work; if not, budget would be $5,000); HVAC upgrades, $105,000; electric service upgrades, $20,000; structural repairs, $9,500; replacement of front columns, $2,500; exterior upgrades to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, $15,000; and soft costs, $20,000.
Skudera said the building is being checked on a regular basis to ensure the mold outbreak does not get worse while the structure remains unoccupied. There is no set date when the library is scheduled to re-open to the public, he said.
Tinton Falls Public Library Board of Trustees President Rosemary Kochman said the grant application could be released next spring.
“We have formed a committee to research and explore fundraising activities to raise money for the library,” Kochman said, noting the grant application, when submitted, could be denied by the state.
At this time, Tinton Falls residents may check out books and other materials from the Monmouth County Library System while the Tinton Falls library is closed, according to Muriel Smith, a representative of the county library system.