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Additional state funds will address ‘unexpected costs’ for South Brunswick Public Library’s expansion project

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – Half a million allocated in the 2023 state budget will go towards the South Brunswick Public Library’s expansion and renovation project and will address “inflation and unexpected site work.”

“The funding was made possible with the assistance of New Jersey Sen. Andrew Zwicker (D-16) after some discussions initiated by Bina Mehta [and discussions] between the three of us,” said Chris Carbone, Director of the South Brunswick Public Library.

Mehta is the chair of the South Brunswick Public Library Foundation’s fundraising capital campaign – Building the Next Chapter.

Carbone said the $500,000 in funds were requested to address “unplanned expenses required for additional earthwork, site grading, retaining walls and guard rails necessary to protect adjacent wetlands and mitigate a low water table.”

The construction project renovates the Christopher J. Killmurray Building and had been estimated to cost $7.2 million.

“My own children spent countless hours in the South Brunswick Library when they were students and I am thrilled that we were able to secure the necessary funding to ensure that for years to come, students will have the same opportunity,” Zwicker said.

The expansion and renovation project is due to projected population growth from mandated affordable housing obligations, library officials said.

According to the foundation, the project includes constructing a 128-seat theater and auditorium, friends book donation and storage area, expanded parking and a new meeting room.

The existing meeting room will be divided into group workspaces and the teen space would be enlarged.

The project addresses accessibility issues, insufficient space for community engagement and education, and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) repairs.

It also replaces an extensive entrance ramp with a new lobby and elevator, renovates non-compliant restrooms into accessible family restrooms, allows for a new conference room, four small group study rooms and creates a new quiet room, according to the South Brunswick Library Foundation campaign.

A 50% match in state funding had been previously granted through the Library Construction Bond Act (LCBA) in the amount of $3.58 million to help cover costs in 2021.

Additionally, a $3.01 million bond, which was approved by the South Brunswick Township Council, $405,000 in federal funds and $250,000 from the Library Board of Trustees went towards covering the cost of the project.

The federal funds were received through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which was announced in April.

“The provided funding will help create an inspiring space where all members of the community can convene and increased capacity to host training workshops and civic services open to the community,” U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12) said in a statement at the time. “It will provide additional necessary services to the community to assist with the increasing population.”

Members of the library administration, foundation, township officials and dignitaries joined residents in May to celebrate the project with a “Construction Carnival” with games, crafts and construction vehicles.

“The planned upgrade and expansion of the facility will help transform the library, not just into a place to study or to find a favorite book, but as an anchor of the South Brunswick community,” Carbone said.

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