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North Bergen ordinance bonds additional money for library and community center

Higher-than-expected contractor bids at issue

A rendering of the North Bergen Community Center and Library at night. Image courtesy of RSC Architects.

The North Bergen Board of Commissioners and Mayor Nicholas J. Sacco introduced an ordinance issuing bonds for approximately $2.3 million on Jan. 2 when the board held its first meeting of the new year.

The board wants to raise more than $2 million in additional funds to support the construction of the new library and recreation center at 1231 John F. Kennedy Blvd.

The public hearing on the ordinance will take place at the Jan. 22 commissioners meeting, after which the board will vote to adopt the ordinance. Then there is a 20-day period after final publication before it goes into effect.

The North Bergen Community Center and Library (NBCC&L) will replace the North Bergen Free Public Library Kennedy Branch at 2123 JFK Blvd.

According to Town Manager Chris Pianese, the board initially adopted an ordinance allowing for approximately $13.5 million to be bonded for the construction of the NBCC&L.

In November of 2019, the township took bids from potential contractors to build the library and recreation center. According to Pianese, bids came in over the township’s initial bond for $13.5 million.

“The amount in the ordinance bridges the gap between the amount the township needs to build the library and the amount of the contractors’ bids,” Pianese told the Hudson Reporter.

The costs of the project are expected to be covered mostly by federal, state, and county grants. The initial bond ordinance was drawn up so that the amount of money approved can be adjusted once the township of North Bergen has secured the grants.

A new community center downtown

Mayor Sacco and the  commissioners announced the plans to build a new, state-of-the-art Community Center and Library at 13th Street and JFK Blvd., according to the township’s winter 2019 newsletter.

“All North Bergen residents deserve access to outstanding municipal services, no matter what part of the township they call home,” the newsletter read. “NBCC&L will be a place where North Bergen children, seniors and families can come together and enjoy recreation sports, library services, classes and activities and much more.”

A rendering of the North Bergen Community Center & Library. Image courtesy of RSC Architects.

NBCC&L will consist of five floors with two levels of garage parking, which will preserve street parking for residents, the township said.

The new library will replace the current North Bergen Free Public Library Kennedy Branch, which also serves as a makeshift community center for the township. The increase in space will allow for more community programs and services with a computer lab, classrooms, study areas, and multi-purpose community rooms.

“Our team is always working to improve our community and offer even better services to residents, and this project will be an incredibly exciting new addition to North Bergen,” Mayor Sacco said.

The community center will also feature a fitness center on the floor above the library, and will include an indoor basketball court with six hoops, fitness classrooms, and an outdoor exercise area. On the rooftop recreational field, North Bergen residents will be able to play soccer, football, and participate in many other activities.

“NBCC&L will allow our Recreation Department to continue expanding and offering new and exciting programs to North Bergen children, keeping them active and engaged all year round,” said Parks and Recreation Commissioner Hugo Cabrera.

The building is being designed by RSC Architects. NBCC&L is expected to open in 2021.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Dan Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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