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LIBRARY REOPENING? TWO DOORS DOWN

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Last time we checked, the overdue Red Bank Public Library renovations were expected to be completed this month or next, following weather-related delays over the winter.

Last night, the borough council approved the opening of a temporary storefront two doors away, at the corner of West Front Street and Maple Avenue, where library patrons will be able to pick up books they’ve arranged to borrow and ask research questions.

The space is being donated by Hovnanian Enterprises and is expected to be up and running “certainly by a week from tonight,” Mayor Pasquale Menna said.

No mention was made during the council’s session of when the library itself would reopen. It turns out the expectation is now that will occur in July.

And the reason for the delay? It’s what happens when you renovate old buildings, Menna and Council President Sharon Lee said after the meeting.

“Things are moving along at a quick pace now,” said Lee. But the facility is still a construction site, with an open elevator shaft and other hazards that make a limited reopening not feasible, she said. “Now, it’s really just cosmetic stuff, and hopefully, it will pass fire inspection this week.”

The temporary space won’t have a reading room, and will only be set up for material drop-off and pickup and some limited research via the Internet.

The $1.6 million renovation project began last June, and the library has been closed since Oct. 23. The elevator is one of the major upgrades, which also include new air conditioning, a new sprinkler system, and restorations to the old Eisner mansion portion of the structure, which had a wing added to it in the 1960s.

Last night, the council approved contracts totalling $162,385 for carpeting, shelving and furniture in the library.

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