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Cranbury library project on chosen list for state funding; state legislature must approve appropriations

Artist rendering of the proposed stand alone Cranbury Public Library.

Cranbury Public Library’s plan for a stand-alone library in downtown Cranbury received a boost when Gov. Phil Murphy recently announced his recommended list of proposed statewide library projects for the first round of funding from the Library Construction Bond Act (LCBA).

The LCBA is for the purpose of the construction, reconstruction, development, extension, improvement and furnishing of public libraries throughout the state. In a press release on Nov. 5, the governor stated that $87.5 million will be available for projects on the awardee list for the first round of funding from the $125 million LCBA-appropriated funding.

Details have not been released on how much grant money the Cranbury Public Library would receive, as the list must be approved in the state legislature. The Assembly already has a bill (A4942) to appropriate funds from LCBA, but a similar bill has not been assigned in the Senate.

According to the New Jersey State Library, once appropriations are approved by the Senate and Assembly and signed by the governor, then the state librarian will send the grant award letters to the first round of approved projects.

Cranbury Public Library Board of Trustees have been waiting for this long-awaited announcement since applying for grant funding earlier this year.

With an estimated cost of about $4.4 million, the Cranbury Library Foundation has already raised $2.5 million in private donations for the stand-alone building project in Cranbury.

If the funding figure requested by the library’s application is awarded it would allow library leadership to raise the total needed to cover the cost of the new building.

The new library is expected to be constructed on township-owned land after funding has been secured. The 14-acre parcel is at Park Place West and is also within walking distance from the Cranbury School. Currently, the land is open space.

The process has been long for the Board of Trustees as they had been waiting on the state to publish the rules in 2019 to apply for a portion of the $125 million made available to them from the state LCBA. The act was established in 2017 after a statewide referendum.

In order to make this project become reality, library leadership surveyed residents in 2006. Officials found that a vast majority of residents liked the library. The library then did a capital assessment of the town to see if it would be able to raise the money, which the assessment had confirmed.

The Cranbury Library Foundation would be established in 2009 and help raise more than $2 million in private donations.

The library no longer is in the shared space at the Cranbury School and presently stands to operate out of two locations in Cranbury. The downtown location will be out of the first floor at Odd Fellows Hall on 30 N. Main St. and a second location not open to the public at back office location in an office park on 109 S. Main St.

The downtown location will be essentially the library’s front office and downtown presence for the next two years.

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