Vicari announces $4.8 million grant to build new library branch in Stafford

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Little girl chooses, takes book with fairy tales from shelf in children's library.Special reading kids room.Many shelves with bright interesting,educational books about animals.

TOMS RIVER – Calling it a highly competitive grant program, Ocean County Library’s application to secure funds for a new branch library in Stafford Township recently was approved providing $4.8 million toward the building project.

“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,” said Ocean County Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Library system. “We join with the Library staff and Library Commission in expressing our appreciation to the state Legislature and the Governor in signing the legislation that will provide this grant.

“This will allow us to construct a new state-of-the-art library facility in Stafford Township providing our residents with a larger facility that supports the area’s population growth,” Vicari said.

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.

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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 building will also provide educational resources and community spaces, state of the art technologies, public computers and shelving for 40 to 50 percent more books and materials.

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. The total cost of the new library is about $9.6 million.

“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.

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The new branch will also include 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.

“We would like to see construction get under way later this year,” Vicari said.