Renovations Could Close Haddonfield Library for up to 3 Months
Total renovations could take nearly a year to complete.
Planned renovations to the borough library could take nearly a year to complete and close the aging building for up to three months, an architect told borough officials this week.
Architect Anthony Iovino said the library could not stay open during a key phase of an effort to bring the 93-year-old building up to federal ADA handicapped accessibility codes. Plans call for an elevator to be installed, with demolition and replacement of existing stairwells and a bump out to either the side or back of the building to accommodate the changes. Other improvements include a new roof, restroom renovations to allow handicapped access, the widening of some doors and lowering the main and children's circulation desks.
Library Director Susan Briant said a plan could be explored for borough residents to use the Cherry Hill Library during the local library closing. She and other officials at the commissioners' work session this week, where the issue was discussed, also ruled out operating the library off-site because of costs.
It was not immediately reported how soon the renovations will begin.
Briant was at the center of a dustup last month. Borough commissioners criticized her for speaking out in a published report about the library renovation. Briant refused to comment about the dispute after a commissioners meeting last week.
Briant and other library officials pitched a serious of options last year to address a federal mandate to bring the library up to ADA standards.
The library board of trustees pitched four concepts for the construction of a new library to the commissioners over the summer. The total costs for the projects ranged from $6.1 million to $8.5 million. The public funding ranged from $3.6 million to $5.9 million. Three of the four concepts could have been located in a borough-owned lot on Clement Street. The fourth concept, one favored by the library board, could have been located on private land at the corner of Wilkins and Allen avenues.
"Three of the concepts envision a traditional approach: The borough would award a contract for the construction of a building that houses a public library," a previous statement from the library board said.
"The fourth concept envisions a public/private partnership under which an independent entity would facilitate the construction—on private property and by a private developer—of a multi-use building that includes not only a modern public library but also some other highly desirable community facilities. All four concepts call for financial contributions from private sources."
The ADA-plus option costs substantially less, up to $1.9 million. That's what the commissioners chose. Briant questioned the decision.
"I've seen a lot of towns waste a lot of money by rebuilding a first, second and third time and that's about what's going to happen here," Briant said in November. "I realize the economy is extremely difficult, but unfortunately the library is never the priority. This really isn't going to address what a town like Haddonfield needs."
The cost of the ADA-plus renovations could grow if an effort to purchase a parcel of land behind the library is successful. The parcel, which will run the length of the library and extend for 15 feet beyond the existing property line, is part of 56 Haddon Ave. The building's tenants include the Archer & Greiner law firm.
The cost of the acquisition is not part of the up to $1.9 million estimated cost of the ADA-plus renovation. Officials said a private library donation fund could help pay for the land. Without the additional land, the extension to accommodate the renovations will have to be on the Tanner Street side of the building and will provide 1,920-square-feet of additional space, about 510-square-feet less than the rear addition.
CORRECTION: An earlier addition of this report was not accurate about the source of private funding to help purchase an additional parcel of land and about the square-footage of planned additions to the library.