The newly remodeled children’s room of Red Bank Public Library is bright and colorful, taking cues from the Navesink River panorama just outside its expansive windows.
But still you can’t get there from here not if you need an elevator.
Borough officials say the last, daunting snafu to overcome in a $1.6 million remodeling project that’s had more than its fair share centers on the newly installed elevator.
The device works just fine, they say. But the state Department of Community Affairs, which has jurisdiction over such things, last month gave it a failing grade after an inspection. At issue was a safety component that the agency had earlier not required, according to Borough Administrator Stanley Sickels.
The problem arose, Sickels said, when the borough fire inspector tested a component called a phase 1 fire return, technology that automatically returns the elevator to its first-floor station whenever a smoke alarm is triggered in the building.
The device didn’t work. So the project engineer, noting that state-approved plans for the elevator didn’t call for the device, had it removed. Two weeks later, shortly before Christmas, the state inspector failed the elevator because it didn’t have the alarm device, Sickels said.
Sickels said he called the DCA’s elevator inspection unit and was told that, despite the agency’s earlier approval of the plans, the device was required on any elevator used for handicapped access.
In fact, the entire remodeling of the library was prompted by a consent agreement with the federal Justice Department, which had challenged the adequacy of the borough’s compliance with Americans with Disabiities Act requirements.
Sickels said the elevator contractor is scheduled to be at the library today to reinstall and program the safety feature. With luck, he said, the borough would be able to get the state inspector back by the end of this week and win a green light for the lift.
That would enable the library staff to complete its move back into the library, said library director Debbie Griffin-Sadel. Much of the equipment and files that are to be moved can only be relocated via the elevator, Sickels said.
Griffin-Sadel said she expects the library to reopen on a limited basis while those final moves are made, and to have a grand reopening party once the project is completed. Having had to eat prior forecasts, though, she’s reluctant to offer a date for either milestone.
UPDATE: In response to an inquiry, redbankgreen received this reply today from Chris Donnelly, a spokesman for the DCA:
The elevator in question has yet to have a final inspection performed on it. DCA has been scheduled to perform an inspection several times, including once in October and once in November. A variety of issues, however, such as incorrect installation of smoke detectors as well as the new elevator not being complete, prevented DCA from performing inspections at that time. We plan on visiting the site later in the week to determine if an inspection can be conducted.