Independent  Holmdel,  NJ
Aberdeen * Hazlet * Holmdel * Keyport * Matawan * Middletown

Front Page         April 9, 2003 

Library still not compliant
By maura dowgin
Staff Writer

KEYPORT — Although the borough has plans for its library to be wheelchair accessible, no money has been budgeted for the project.

"Our library building is approaching its 90th year," said Claude Salomon, president of the library’s board of trustees.

The Broad Street building must be renovated in the near future to comply with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, Salomon said.

People with disabilities have "no access to the library" and the library "does not meet needs of patrons with problems with mobility," Salomon said. There are programs in place that allow people with disabilities to use other libraries in Monmouth County, he said.

The Keyport Library is not affiliated with the Monmouth County Library System.

After the new borough hall is completed, "the library will be the only major public building in Keyport not in line with the ADA," Salomon said.

"This is not an option. This is federally mandated," she said.

The proposal to become ADA compliant includes new shelving for books, renovations to the bathroom, a wheelchair lift, and automatic doors, Salomon said.

There is money in the municipal budget for emergency repairs to the library, but not for any capital improvements, said Mayor John Merla.

The construction costs for the project would be about $400,000, not including design fees or money to remove and store the books in another location, Salomon said.

"The cost estimates are very preliminary," Salomon said.

The borough needs to "get a better idea of cost and discuss phasing the project," Merla said.

The board is looking for other sources of funding, such as the state Community Development Block Fund grants.

"Other libraries have received such funding from the county in order to get their libraries into compliance," Salomon said.

The borough should investigate other state and federal funding programs that assist covering the costs of making public buildings ADA compliant, Merla said.

"The library would be closed for two or three months while the construction was taking place," Salomon said.

People must walk up a flight of stairs to enter the building. Once inside, the only way between floors is stairs, she said.

The board is also requesting a parking space in front of the library to be designated as an accessible parking spot for people with disabilities, she said.

The main floor is not compliant with ADA requirements either, she said.

There are blocked pathways, the spaces between the bookshelves are not wide enough to allow wheelchair access to the books, and the bathrooms are not compliant, Salomon said. This all adds up to "potentially dangerous conditions and a lack of compliance on the main floor," Salomon said.

The board is still in the planning stages of the project, Salomon said.

The board will be meeting with the borough’s Buildings and Grounds Department to discuss the situation and come up with other sources of funding for the project, Merla said.

"Maybe we can do something for next year," Merla said.

There is no time limit to become compliant, but it is an "ongoing obligation," said Carolyn Schwebel, co-chair of The Equalizers, an ADA advocacy group located in Middletown.