Cranbury Public Library set for bid opening on new library building project

ANDREW HARRISON/STAFF

When March arrives, bids will be due for the plan to construct a new building and community structure for the Cranbury Public Library.

The invitation to bid for the project opened in late January and all bids are due by March 4. The bid opening will occur on the same day, according to the invitation for bids legal notice.

“They go through all the pieces and read the final total bid. Then afterwards we look at the bids and see if the lowest bid qualifies,” Cranbury Public Library Director Marilynn Mullen said.

Barring any issues with the bids, the construction process is expected to be underway sometime this spring. A groundbreaking has not yet been announced and will depend on the bids.

“It depends on what comes in with the bids, if they are good the groundbreaking could be quick,” Mullen added during a Cranbury Public Library Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 11.

In the fall of 2020, the library’s Board of Trustees received the long-awaited news that they would receive the $2.32 million in state funds the library applied for from the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act (LCBA).

The Cranbury Public Library was awarded funding from the first round of LCBA, which distributed $87.5 million in funds.

The LCBA was approved by New Jersey voters in a statewide referendum in 2017. The $125 million available through the LCBA provides funding for local library construction and renovation projects.

Cranbury library funds that had already been gathered matching the state grant are at least $2.32 million. The funds to match the grant have come from private fundraising through the Cranbury Public Library Foundation and the board of trustees reserving funds through the years for a new building.

The state grant gave the library a little more than $4.65 million in total funds for the freestanding building project. These funds are expected to cover the full cost of the building, which would be located in downtown Cranbury.

The new library is to be constructed on township-owned land that was dedicated by the Cranbury Township Committee. 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 proposed one-story library building would be about 11,600 square feet, according to the Cranbury Public Library Foundation website. The new building would include a children’s area with storytime space, teen area with laptop networking capability, an 80-person capacity large meeting space, study rooms, working areas for adults, and a CreativeSpace electronic lab.

The idea for a new building and space has been in the works for some time since library leadership surveyed residents in 2006. The survey found that a vast majority of residents liked the library. Then the library conducted 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 was established in 2009 and has raised more than $2 million in private donations.