Eight months after Peter Havel first proposed the addition of a community room to the Cedar Grove Library, talk of a new proposal is in the works.
Havel, the library’s director, plans to present a new proposal to the Township Council for a larger community space than he originally sought in November 2013. Havel’s first proposal was for a community room where local organizations, like the Senior Citizen’s and Rotary clubs, can meet. Both organizations lack space for their respective meetings and events.
The Senior Citizen’s Club for instance, previously met at the Veterans of Foreign War Post (VFW) on 970 Pompton Ave., according to current VFW Commander Fred Urban. That was until the post collapsed in February from the weight of excessive snowfall.
“Now we no longer have a meeting space. We meet in each other’s houses,” Urban said to the Times recently.
Following last fall’s presentation, Havel said he met with Cedar Grove Township Manager Thomas Tucci to further discuss details of the proposal. However, at that time, the council had more options to consider.
“We were looking at the VFW for a community center. That’s no longer an option,” Councilman Robert O’Toole said in a phone interview with the Times Monday.
O’Toole went onto say that Havel’s original plan was quite small to be considered a community center.
Councilman Joseph Chiusolo also expressed his concerns with not only the room’s size, but its lack of parking. “There is not a lot of parking in Cedar Grove. The library’s parking lot now, in terms of court nights and council meetings, is already over burdened,” Chiusolo said Monday, adding how expanding the parking lot to handle a new community center would require additional funding.
Architecture firm Greg Kelly & Associates estimated that the proposed structure would total $305,770, according to previous reports in the Times. Havel’s initial proposal included a request for the council to provide $200,000 of the total cost, while the library would make up the difference.
That request led to a main concern for Chiusolo.
“I cannot be for or against a community center without considering the financial impact it would have on the taxpayers,” Chiusolo said to the Times this week.
Last year, Havel suggested that the township’s contribution be acquired through bonds. But Chiusolo noted that that money still needs to be paid back.
The director, undeterred but conscious of the council’s concerns, said he will present a new proposal at a future council meeting.
“I have some more preparations to do, and I have to get onto the agenda first,” he said.
O’Toole and Chiusolo said they are not against the idea of the community center, but the proposed project raises concerns.
“It requires more meetings and more consideration. I would suggest that two council members be chosen to investigate and come up with a game plan for the council to consider,” Chiusolo said.
Mayor E. Romeo Longo and councilmen John Zunic and Peter Tanella did not respond to call made by the Times.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 4.