FROZEN OUT OF THE STACKS
A partial reopening of the Red Bank Public Library initially planned for December and then postponed until this month probably won’t happen at all, library officials say now.
The upshot: library users will have to wait until May or June, when the entire renovation project is completed, to access the facility, said library director Debbie Griffin-Sadel.
The latest holdup: making up for weeks of work lost to the February cold snap, which brought the installation of a new sprinkler system to a halt. For the duration of the delay, a trench exposing a water line between the building and the supply line under West Front Street lay open, as contractors waited for a break in the Arctic freeze to fix a leak.
The trench was has now been refilled, and work has been resumed. But the partial re-opening? “Doesn’t look like it’s going to happen,” said Griffin-Sadel, who called the delays “extremely frustrating.
“We’re hoping not to become the Eastern Branch,” she said, referring to the Monmouth County Library branch in Shrewsbury that has been under reconstruction for almost four years.
The $1.6 million remodeling project, which began in June, called for the installation of an elevator and refurbishment of areas that have long been off limits to the public one-time living spaces of the Eisner family. “Right now, what used to be the most beautiful room in Red Bank is being used to store furniture,” Griffin-Sadel said.
The facility has been closed since October. A month or so later, the presence of asbestos and a determination that the roof should be replaced led to the initial schedule disruption. “It was just one problem after another,” said the director. “As you start tearing apart an old building, you find problems.”
Now, she said, the contractors are largely finished with the older part of the structure. The staff of three full-time librarians and three part-time assistants continues to work in the building, in varying degrees of comfort, Griffin-Sadel, said. Meanwhile, the library has suspended due dates and fines on loaned materials and has extended the paid memberships of library patrons who live outside Red Bank.
The June completion date, if met, would mean the job was completed in a year, as expected from the outset.
Thus far, one change order that increased the cost of the project by $102,000 has been approved by the borough council. Griffin-Sadel said ther may be more change orders coming, “but nothing as big” as the one already cleared.