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Posted on: April 6, 2023

The Ocean County Board of Commissioners Awards Contract to Construct New Stafford Library

The Ocean County Board of Commissioners on April 5 awarded a contract to Newport Construction Management Corp, Pennsauken, to construct the new branch which will be located at 179 South Main Street in Manahawkin.

"I am pleased to announce that we are close to getting construction underway on this new state of the art library facility," said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Joseph H.Vicari, liaison to the Ocean County Library. "This new county library branch in Stafford Township will provide our residents with a larger facility that supports the area's population growth."

Ocean County received six bids for the project.

Newport Construction Management was the lowest qualified bidder. The contract cost is $9,488,700. Ocean County has received a grant from the New Jersey State Library Construction Bond in the amount of $4,824,000 toward the project. This project like other library facilities, is a joint project between Stafford Township and the County.

"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.

"This new branch in Stafford replaces an aging facility," Vicari said. "Relocating it to 179 Main Street, which is south of its current location on North Main Street, also 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.

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.

"We all look forward to the day when the new building is completed and our residents can access this new branch," said Timothy McDonald, Chairman of the Ocean County Library Commission. "This project has been a priority on our facilities plan for a number of years."

The new branch will be constructed on property owned by Ocean County on Route 9 at the Ocean County Southern Service Center location.

In anticipation of building a new library branch there 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.

The new Stafford Library branch will be a 19,700 square foot standalone building which will be 65 percent larger than the current building on North Main Street.

"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. "This new building holds an exciting future for all of us at the Ocean County Library."

The new building will be located at the nexus of state roads serving as coastal evacuation routes where it will serve as the community anchor and be built with a full-building generator to provide resiliency in times of natural disasters and emergencies.

Vicari said Ocean County welcomes the partnership with Stafford Township and the State to provide a new library branch in the southern part of the County. Ocean County and Stafford Township will also share in the cost of the new facility.

"Working in partnership allows us to better address the needs of our constituents and helps us to make the biggest impact on the communities we serve," Vicari said. "There is no better investment for our future," Vicari said.

The architect for the project is Yezzi Associates of Toms River.

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