Residents say the Bloomfield Library is in rough shape.
They say problems range from mold to major electronic failure. They believe people with disabilities can’t access parts of the building and that deterioration and neglect pose health risks and dangers to the public.
Township officials say they are investigating the complaints and have already begun to address some issues. Nonetheless, the concerns are likely to be voiced when the library board meets this week.
Joe Kavanagh, the Shop Steward for the Library employees, brought many of these
issues to the attention of officials before his death on Aug 19. On Aug. 12, he
told the council about infrastructure problems at the library, mismanagement of
library fine collection and needed maintenance to library infrastructure.
Kavanagh presented a Letter of No Confidence to the Library Board earlier this year with a list of infrastructure problems. Kavanagh said the elevators in the Children's and adult library need attention and said that water in the elevator shaft has rusted equipment and caused electrical problems.
"Water and electricity don't mix," Bloomfield resident Pat Gilleran told Bloomfield officials on Tuesday.
He said the roof of the Children's and Adult libraries have dangerously deteriorated, with water damage in the children's library causing walls to peel and cause a moldy smell in and near the children’s theater.
Residents say water damage has caused ceiling tiles to fall, sometimes narrowly missing patrons and staff.
Township Administrator Ted Ehrenberg said the problems with the library only came to his attention recently and that investigations and repairs were already underway.
“We are currently fixing the elevator to the tune of just shy of $800,000,” Ehrenberg said. He added that the library was being checked for mold and that they’ve hired a contractor to work on the roof.
He said that the need for repairs was stretching the township budget.
“We have a budget that was formatted months ago when none of these costs were brought to our attention,” Ehrenberg said.
The Library Board meets on Wednesday in the Mayor's Conference Room, second floor of the Law Enforcement Building at Bloomfield Town Hall, at 5 p.m.