By Liz Sheehan
SEA BRIGHT – The borough’s new oceanfront library, with a deck overlooking the beach, will be completed by Memorial Day, 2018, according to project architect Kevin Settembrino.
Settembrino announced the news to about 60 people who braved the strong, northeast wind, heavy rain and local flood condition warnings at a project presentation at the Sea Bright United Methodist Church Saturday morning, May 13.
Monmouth County’s only oceanfront library will be housed on the second floor of a three-story building in the municipal parking lot that is situated just west of the sea wall being constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The library portion of the building will be at the same level as the sea wall and will have doors opening to both a covered and uncovered deck extending over the seawall.
The seawall and the library level of the building will be above the base flood elevation (BFE), which is the anticipated height waters would rise to during a base flood. The National Flood Insurance Program requires buildings in flood hazard areas to be at or above the BFE.
In addition, Settembrino said, there will be a drainage system installed that will funnel any water that might come over the seawall down to the parking lot.
He said the ground floor would be used for vehicle storage, which will be emptied when storms are expected. The structure of the first floor, and the large doors that can be opened, will allow water to flow through it without damage if flooding occurs, Settembrino said.
In addition to the library, the second floor will have an outside ticket booth for selling beach passes. There will be outdoor bathrooms and changing sections for beachgoers. These will be accessed via the deck, and do not connect to the library, which will have its own bathrooms, he said.
There will be a ramp from the parking lot to the second story of the building and an elevator. The ramp will also give access to the beach.
The third floor of the building will be used by the mayor and Borough Council for meetings or for other borough events, said Settembrino, a resident of Middletown Township, who has served on its governing body and various boards since 2010. The room can also be rented for social events, and is equipped with a warming kitchen.
The building is one of two that are planned to replace the library, beach facility, firehouse, police department and first aid headquarters – all of which were damaged by Super Storm Sandy – and to provide administrative facilities and storage of the town’s records.
In April, the council awarded the $3.85 million contract for the project to Kelso Construction Company, Manasquan, the low bidder for the library project.
The proposal to replace the damaged buildings ran into opposition after the council approved the plan by a 4-2 vote in June 2016, when a petition signed by qualified, registered voters in the town met the threshold to require a referendum on the bonds to finance the project.
In October, shortly before the fourth anniversary of Sandy, voters approved the bonds for the library/community center building by 340 to 169 and for the fire house, police headquarters, and first aid space and the town’s administrative space and record storage by 349 to 162.
The library is for residents of the town but others can join for a $35 yearly fee, said assistant librarian Patty Andriola.
The library has been housed in a spacious room at the church, where the presentation was given, since July 2015. The previous library, which was in the municipal parking lot, was demolished in June of 2013, eight months after Sandy, upsetting some residents who did not expect the building to be torn down so quickly.
The original plans were to rehabilitate the old library but these were changed because the estimates for the work were so high – around $200,000 – when costs for conforming to the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements were included.
Prior to hearing from the architect of the library, those at the meeting listened to an organ and voice presentation by organist Don Carolina and soprano Dannielle Wolf. This program was part of a series of music concerts given at the church that will continue.
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