rbpl trustees 050114 Mayor Pasquale Menna, right, swears in new library board members in the Eisner Room. Sara Hansen, center below, with Elizabeth McDermott and Steve Hecht, was chosen board president. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


sara hansen 050114Members of the Red Bank Public Library’s newly reconstituted board of trustees board got a real-life introduction to the challenges they’ll face Wednesday night.

On a tour of the library during a downpour one day before they were  sworn into their posts, trustees witnessed rainwater coming through the ceiling and flooding the basement.

“I wanted board members to see the building,” acting library director Elizabeth McDermott told redbankgreen. What they saw was the hasty deployment of trash cans to catch water dripping from above and “a couple of inches” of water inundating the basement of the former Eisner mansion portion of the srtucture, thanks to faulty drainage from an exterior stairwell.

“It was up to here” in the stairwell, said new trustee Beth Hanratty, indicating a point just below her knee.

Public works director Gary Watson was called, and “within 30 minutes, we had crews inside and out” to address the infiltration and pump out the cellar, McDermott reported. The crew returned to help with cleanup Thursday. No books or other materials were damaged, she said.

The update was among the orders of business as four new members were sworn in as trustees, replacing those who exited in a mass resignation last month in a dispute with the Menna administration over budgeting issues.

Sworn to their positions were Beth Hanratty, a founder of the Friends of the Red Bank Public Library; Marybeth Maida; Stephen Hecht; and Sara Hansen, an employee of the Ocean County Library system.

“Congratulations. You’ve now all signed up for indentured servitude,” Mayor Pasquale Menna quipped after a swearing-in ceremony.

Hansen was elected board president, replacing children’s author John Grandits. April Klimley, the only holdover from the last board, continues as vice president.

“I know there are lots of questions about budgets and hours, and we’ll get to those,” Hansen told a small audience in the ornate Eisner Room. “But not tonight.”

Instead, the board addressed its own meeting schedule, conference attendance, and a request to spend $5,000 on new books. That request, along with other substantive matters, was tabled until the board’s next meeting, on May 15.

“We’re excited to spread the word that we’re back, we’re strong and we’re ready to serve the community,” Hansen said.

McDermott, one of two librarians rehired last month after being laid off in March over budget issues, has has been acting director since her return, replacing Virginia Papandrea, who retired.