It’s not often that firebrand Republican Councilman John Curley makes much headway against the tide of the Democratic majority.

But for a fleeting moment last night, Curley seemed to have raised concerns that just might bring the Dems around to his point of view.


In the end, though, uh-uh.

The issue was a series of invoices, known as change orders, that would increase the cost of the ongoing $1.6 million renovation of the Red Bank Public Library by $8,350.

Curley raised questions about the particulars, and — to his evident surprise — found his concerns echoed and expanded on by Democrat Art Murphy III and even his main adversary in the post-McKenna era, Michael DuPont.

Though DuPont said the library work was still under budget, he and Murphy expressed concerns that the governing body hadn’t gotten enough detail explaining who had ordered the changes and why.

Referring to documents distributed to the council, Murphy said it appeared that one of the charges was the result of replacing window parts that had been thrown out. Another reflected the removal of electrical floor boxes not shown in he plans, at a cost of $673.

A building contractor by trade, Murphy said that in his own dealings, if he makes a mistake, he has to eat the cost. But the information provided to the council, he said, didn’t make clear who might be responsible for the added charges.

At several points, referring again to the documents, Murphy noted that the changes had been approved by “Debbie,” and asked, “Who is this Debbie?”

Murphy was informed that she’s the library’s director, Deborah Griffin-Sadel.

Murphy suggested that the council table the resolution authorizing payment of the charges until the council could get more information either from Griffin-Sadel or from the architect overseeing the work.

“Get somebody in here to give us an explanation,” he said. “Maybe (the resolution is) warranted, maybe it’s not.”

Curley, though, pushed for decisive action.

“We’re seeing a number of changes, all in the wrong direction,” he said. “To try to get this library completed is absolutely ridiculous.

“I say vote on it, and vote it down,” Curley said twice during the discussion. He put his suggestion in the form of a motion.

But his path to legislative triumph was thwarted when he couldn’t get a second, not even from fellow Republican Grace Cangemi. A motion by Murphy to table the resolution was carried. Councilman RJ Bifani, another Curley antagonist, was absent, as was Mayor Pasquale Menna, who frequently has a taming effect on Curley.

Reached at the library today, Griffin-Sadel told redbankgreen that she wasn’t aware that any change orders were scheduled to go before the council last night, and so was unprepared to answer questions about line items.

But generally, she said, change orders have resulted from “technical” matters arising from surprises in the former Eisner family mansion portion of the building.

As an example, she cited a need to resize some ductwork that was ordered based on measurements between visible joists in a ceiling. But when the tin ceiling in the area where the ductwork was to be installed was removed, the joist cavity was a different size, she said.

Griffin-Sadel declined to give a fixed date for the library’s reopening, except to say that it’s looking like mid-October.

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