Fighting a deadline New library looks to open doors by early September
by Al Sullivan Reporter senior staff writer
Jul 18, 2002 | 547 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Despite more than a year in delays due to problems with the first contractor, the new Secaucus Public Library will likely open in September, with the adjacent Sept. 11 memorial opening in time to mark the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Town officials - responsible for the construction of the new building - have been pressing to have the door ready to open and this week saw the installation of gas lines to the new facility via Flanagan Way.

"We had to come in through this side of the building," said Vincent Pietro, director of the town's Office of Inspection. Pietro has been monitoring the project since it was started a year and a half ago. Town officials credit him with discovering several problems late last year that allowed the town to abandon the original contractor and forced the bonding company to take over the project.

Late last year, the $2.9 million project was delayed for almost a year by a variety of apparent mistakes in laying the foundation. After numerous complaints by the town, Luberman's Mutual agreed to take over the construction. Since then, the construction has gone very well, according to Town Administrator Anthony Iacono.

Estimates for the library's official opening vary, Iacono said.

"The contractor is saying that he will be done by Sept. 1," he said. "That is an optimist's assessment. My gut feeling is that the new library won't be up and running until sometime in October."

Brickwork on the outside is underway, and that aspect, Iacono said, will likely be done in time for Sept. 1.

"They've also started painting some of the rooms," he said. "But even if the building were ready by Sept. 1, it will take weeks, maybe even a month to move everything over from the old library."

The town may delay the official grand opening in order to accommodate Gov. James McGreevey, who is expected to attend.

"The library will probably be operating for the public before we actually hold the grand opening ceremony," Iacono said.

The library, however, will have the Sept. 11 memorial finished in time for the year anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center.

Iacono said this will be an all-day event. If the president of the United States does not declare a national day of mourning, Secaucus will focus on daytime events through the schools and an evening service for residents.

"We hope to unveil the memorial at the time of the first plane strike," Iacono said.

This unveiling will occur in front of the library, with evening services involving priests and ministers from the various churches held in Buchmuller Park later.

"We've written a draft of a letter going to stricken families to see if they want to participate, and if they do, we're asking them for suggestions as to what might be appropriate," Iacono said.

Fundraising efforts

Meanwhile, efforts to raise funds to cover the cost of the memorial will be going on over the next two months. On July 29, Outback restaurant will hold an event. In August, the Mayor's Annual Picnic will hold a 50-50 raffle with the mayor's share going towards paying for the memorial. ESPN sports television will be holding a professional boxing bout in the Buchmuller Ice Rink on Aug. 6 with some of the proceeds going towards the memorial.

The memorial cost, Iacono said, is significantly lower than the original $120,000 estimate.

"I will likely cost between $60,000 and $70,000," he said.
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