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Children Lead the Way as South Plainfield Library Breaks Ground on Expansion

Susan DiFrancesco

Friday, August 1, 2014 • 4:00am

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Ringing the bell signifying a new day for the South Plainfield Free Public Library--and ending years worth of debate--Mayor Matthew P. Anesh told hundreds of children and parents that “South Plainfield’s library addition will martial in a new jewel for the residents.” 

With those words, and the ringing of the bell, hundreds of children armed with shovels and pails began breaking ground on the new library addition.

The Library Board on June 10 awarded a $2.6 million contract to Structural Concepts Inc., of Ocean Township for the addition and alterations. Library Board President Darlene Cullen said, “This is an exciting day for the residents and youth of South Plainfield. I’m very proud to be part of the team that was able to finally get the library project over the hump and off the drawing board. A number of former trustees put a lot of sweat and tears into this project, and we are glad to be delivering on their dreams.”

“Tonight signifies the latest step in resolving one of the most unresolved issues in recent time,” said Anesh. “As the saying goes, all good things are worth waiting for, and the residents have waited long enough.” These comments were met with applause by many of the current and former library board members that were in attendance.  

Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin (District 18) said the attendance at the event showed how much people cared:  “Look at all of the people that are here tonight.  It just goes to show you how much people love the library.”

The library was built in 1964, and the day the it opened its doors it was deemed to be too small for South Plainfield's population. Over the past decade there have been a number of library ideas and initiatives, but none have gained enough traction to get off the ground.

The $2.6 million addition is being funded by library savings and grants and bequests. Construction is expected to last 12 to 18 months, and the library is anticipating a six-week construction closure to the facility.

Library Director Linda Hansen warmed up the crowd by saying, “Can you believe after 20 years we are finally building the library?”  According to Hansen “The library currently has 18,686 card-holders in the current 6,000-square-foot building. The addition will double the size to 12,000 square feet.

“I’m so happy this project is finally moving forward. Tonight was a town-wide effort, and it was great to see the community, the mayor and the council come together for the library,” said former South Plainfield Library Board Trustee Cheryl Nagel-Smiley.

The day’s festivities began with Anesh reading a story on the building of a library.  After the mayor’s story-time, the festivities really began. Each child was given a shovel and pail to go up with the dignitaries and begin digging the foundation for the library. Digging continued for over an hour, until the cakes and refreshments grabbed everyone’s attention.     

The day’s event was sponsored by a number of organizations. The children’s plastic pails were donated by Unity Bank and Sonnenfield and Trocchia, AIA.T&M Associates donated the gold shovels; South Plainfield’s Home Depot donated the adult shovels. TAP into South Plainfield donated the sheet cakes and bubbles and the Friends of the Library donated all refreshments.

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