TINTON FALLS – A borough resident is determined to reopen the Tinton Falls Public Library, which was closed in August 2017 after mold was discovered in the building that is owned by the municipality.
Tinton Falls officials have said mold was discovered in a trailer behind the building at 664 Tinton Ave. The trailer was being used for various purposes. Mold was also found in the basement and on the first floor of the structure, which is a former home.
In an interview on April 25, Ellen Goldberg, who has lived in Tinton Falls for 30 years, said she cherishes the time when she took her young children to story time at the library. Goldberg’s children are now in their 20’s.
As her children “grew out” of visiting the library, Goldberg said, she continued to frequent the facility where she would check out books and movies, and look up information.
“I’m just a community member who has frequented the library for the entire 30 years I have lived here. I feel so strongly about keeping our library intact. (The library) is an important part of any community. It’s nice having (a branch of) the Monmouth County Library so close, but it does not take the place of the town library. It’s just not the same.”
Goldberg, who is a retired elementary school teacher, said, “reading is essential.” She said she publicly advocated for the library in 2018 as municipal officials weighed the pros and cons of demolishing the building.
“I got up (at council meetings) and said, ‘I will help fund-raise.’ One council member who was against keeping the library open changed his mind after I spoke. He told me that,” Goldberg said.
Three fundraising events, from which proceeds will be used to help pay for repairs and renovations to the library, will take place this year.
Goldberg is organizing the first fundraiser – a bake sale and children’s fashion show to be held from 1-4 p.m. on June 1 at the Mahala F. Atchison Elementary School, 961 Sycamore Ave. Tickets are $20. VIP tickets are $25.
During the June 1 event, pupils from the Swimming River Elementary School and the Mahala F. Atchison Elementary School will model clothing from the Gap at The Grove, Shrewsbury.
A second fundraiser – a barbecue with music, featuring the bands Mad Man Moon and Half in the Bag, will take place on July 27 on the soccer fields at the Atchison school.
Finally, a food tasting event will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. Oct. 14 in Gibbs Hall at the Suneagles Golf Club, 2000 Lowther Drive, Eatontown.
“We have an ongoing fundraiser that has not officially started yet,” Goldberg said. “We are going to be selling bricks which people can have engraved. We are going to use the bricks to create a walkway leading up to the library.”
A brick will cost $100. Goldberg said a flier that will be distributed will explain how a brick may be purchased.
Goldberg, who said she never expected the library to remain closed for more than a year, said she understands why it cannot be opened to the public at this time.
“First and foremost, we don’t have the money to be able to remediate and reopen (the library). We have applied for a state grant, but New Jersey is dragging its feet on releasing the grant. We can’t get started on (repairs) until after we are awarded the grant,” Goldberg said.
Goldberg said the state will not match funds that are used to repair the library if the renovations and repairs are made before the grant application is released.
More than a year after the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act was approved in a November 2017 public ballot question, the release of $125 million remains stalled as state officials continue to write and review the regulations needed to implement the spending.
Libraries will receive grants for renovations and enhancements after completing a formal application process.
On May 1, an update posted on the New Jersey State Library website said the development of the draft regulations is on track for release in early summer.
Tinton Falls Business Administrator Mike Skudera previously 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 combined total of $187,000.
Once an application for a grant is submitted, Skudera said, it is possible the application could be denied by state officials. He said if that occurs, the remediation efforts at the library would be carried out with the funds reserved from the budget and the library association.