With ceremonial shovels in hand, Ocean County Commissioners joined with officials from Stafford Township, the state of New Jersey and the Ocean County Library, to celebrate the start of construction on a new state of the art library branch here.
“Today is the result of strong partnerships, working together for a common cause – to bring a new library branch to the southern part of Ocean County that can be enjoyed by all of our residents,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph H. Vicari, liaison to the Ocean County Library system. “We look forward to the day that we can walk through the doors of this new branch and see the vision of so many talented and creative professionals that brought this to fruition.”
Vicari was joined by Stafford Township Mayor Gregory A. Myhre, Chairman of the Ocean County Library Commission Timothy McDonald, Jennifer R. Nelson, New Jersey State Librarian, Director of the Ocean County Library Susan Quinn, Library Commission Member Henry Mancini, and a host of representatives from various county, local and state agencies at the ground breaking for the 19,700 square foot branch located at 179 South Main Street, here.
“The new Stafford library branch will be a great asset to Stafford Township and Southern Ocean County,” said Stafford Township Mayor Gregory A. Myhre, during the ceremony. “A library is not a school or a university, but it is still a special place of learning. Having the library built here will tie everything together nicely and make a one-stop resource center for the Southern part of Ocean County.”
The new branch will be located next to the Ocean County Southern Service Center which houses a number of Ocean County services including a main nutrition site for seniors, the Ocean County Clerk’s Office, Office of Senior Services, Department of Human Services and Veterans Service Bureau.
“This new branch in Stafford replaces an aging facility,” Vicari said. “Relocating it to 179 South Main Street brings it closer to existing county government services. In a county as large as Ocean County, accessibility to programs and services is important.”
The new building will provide educational resources and community spaces, state of the art technologies, public computers and shelving for 40 to 50 percent more books and materials. The new branch also includes larger areas for children’s programs, an intergenerational space for senior citizens to socialize and enjoy library services, a new teen area, study rooms, maker space for STEAM educational activities, and a sensory space to provide a welcoming environment for people with autism, Alzheimer’s or other sensory processing needs.
“A civilized society has to have a library for learning and it is important to have access to the resources that are available,” said Chairman of the Ocean County Library Commission Timothy McDonald.
Vicari noted he appreciated the effort to secure the grant from the state Library Construction Bond Act.
“This is a big savings for the County,” he said. “Our county library staff in concert with the administration worked tirelessly to make certain our funding application would gain the state support needed to be approved.”
The Ocean County Library was selected to receive a $4.8 million grant in the second round of funding for the Library Construction Bond Act which allocates $37 million to 36 library projects from 13 counties across New Jersey.
“The one thing libraries give people is hope, part of what we say at the New Jersey State Library is that life happens at the library, and we hope life happens here at
your new library branch,” said Jennifer R. Nelson, New Jersey State Librarian.
The Ocean County Board of Commissioners on April 5 awarded a contract to Newport Construction Management Corp, Pennsauken, to construct the new branch. The contract cost of $9,488,700 is offset by the $4.8 million grant from the New Jersey State Library Construction Bond. The project is scheduled to be completed in September 2024.
This project like other library facilities, is a joint project between Stafford Township and the County.
“This is a tremendous example of a collaboration between local, county and state government and it is a tremendous asset for the residents of not only Stafford Township but also southern Ocean County as a whole,” said Library Commission member Henry Mancini.
“Working together, we can provide the very best for our residents and visitors,” Vicari said. “Our County library system is the largest in the state with 19 branches and two reading centers throughout the County.”
In anticipation of building a new library branch at the County-owned property at 179 South Main Street, the County has already extended a water main to the site and drainage. Parking at the site will be reconfigured to meet the needs of all the services sharing the complex.
“We deeply appreciate the work of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners, the Stafford Township Mayor and Council, the Library Commission, the state Library Construction Bond, the library staff and the County staff as we all work together to bring the best services and programs to the residents,” said Ocean County Library Director Susan Quinn. “The new library will be a field of dreams and possibilities. It holds an exciting future for all of us at the Ocean County Library.”
“There is no better investment for our future,” Vicari said.
Participating in the Groundbreaking of the new Ocean County Library branch in Stafford Township are from left to right Director of the Ocean County Library Susan Quinn, Jennifer R. Nelson, New Jersey State Librarian, Stafford Township Mayor Gregory A. Myhre, Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph H. Vicari, Chairman of the Ocean County Library Commission Timothy McDonald and Library Commission Member Henry Mancini.