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SEA BRIGHT: LIBRARY TO BE RESTORED

Repairs to the Ocean Avenue facility were approved by borough officials Tuesday night. (Photo by Wil Fulton. Click to enlarge)

By WIL FULTON

After months of public outcry, Sea Bright’s public library is back on track toward reopening – and it may get an assist from the Lincroft library, which was shuttered due to budget cuts earlier this year.

The Sea Bright borough council gave the okay to Tuesday night to repair its Ocean Avenue facility, closed since it was battered by Hurricane Sandy.

The status of the library has been up in the air since the October 29 storm, and the borough even tossed around the idea of creating a new library, housed inside a new beach pavilion building. But Councilman Read Murphy confirmed the council had “unanimously” decided to repair the beach side community’s library.

 “As the rumor goes, and as I said the other night, we are going to repair the library,” Murphy told those in attendance at a meeting of the borough council. “We’re going to out for bid on the property. We have approximately $70,000 to work with here.”

“The library is an integral part of Sea Bright, and I’m relieved and pleased to see it will be repaired,” Mayor Dina Long told redbankgreen. “I’ve personally been known to use it frequently, I raised my son going to the library, as a lot of parents in Sea Bright have.”

Prior to the announcement, residents voiced their opinions on the subject, starting with Elisabeth von Ziegesar, chairwoman of the Sea Bright Library Commission and an outspoken advocate of the library repairs.

“We have petitions here to save the library. I hope you are voting on this tonight and will do the right thing,” she said. “I hope we can work together and get it up and running in this town as soon as possible, because people really need it.”

Several residents, who spoke up on separate topics in front of the council, took time to add their support of the library in addition to their other concerns.

“I just wanted to join the chorus of people in support of the library,” said Heather Pedanko. “The library is a tremendous asset to the town, I think it provides the town with space we need right now that we don’t have. It’s a resource for our whole community.”

Part of the urgency comes from the fact that library officials have reached an agreement with the Lincroft branch of the Middletown Public Library, which closed its doors earlier this year. All the supplies, from the books and DVDs down to the shelves, would be made available to Sea Bright, but only if the borough seized the opportunity in the next couple weeks, according to von Ziegesar.

“It took a while to convince them, but I’m glad we did,” she said. “We have this great opportunity provided to us by the closing branch in Lincroft, but we needed to jump on it and let them know we want it, so I’m glad we got a decision tonight. It’s nice to have certainty.”

“The library is something that people truly do miss,” von Ziegesar added, “it’s a place where you can walk in and people do know your name, it’s a place where every resident is known. This is something that could have dragged on and on for months, but we are certainly glad it didn’t.”

Murphy said reconstruction of the library would likely begin sometime in July or August of this year.

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