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Ridgewood Library’s multi-million dollar renovation plan detailed in minutes of recent Library Board meetings


December 23,2016
By Boyd A. Loving

Ridgewood NJ, So much for the Library Board’s recent statement that the building renovation plans announced by Councilman Jeffrey Voigt:  ” . . thus far have been merely speculative” and ” . . . should not have served as an announcement.”

From the official minutes of the Ridgewood Public Library Board of Trustees dated January 21, 2016:


Ms. Greene described the five-year planning process conducted by the Library, which included development of a Strategic Plan with consultant Alan Gray of Darien Library, and a Building Program with consultant Leslie Burger of Princeton Library.

Ms. Campbell welcomed Mr. Gisolfi, Ms. Abate and Mr. Mintzes (of Peter Gisolfi Associates, Architects) as participants on the Ridgewood Library schematics team.

Mr. Gisolfi explained his goal of developing transparency and further unifying the Library’s architectural styles from the 1950s and 1990s. He narrated a slide presentation which included these recommendations:

• Install a square clerestory in the center of the original roof to admit additional light.

• Create a 28′ x 28′ opening in the center of the original building, between the 1st and 2nd floors.

Mr. Gisolfi also showed an alternate location for the opening which had been considered earlier.

• Transform the Auditorium into a Performing Arts Center: expand the footprint and height, build tiered

seating, eliminate the raised stage and add backstage and storage areas.

• Create a large new meeting room against the 1st floor south wall, and a smaller new meeting room on

the northwest corner of the 2nd level (location of existing staff room.)

• Enlarge Young Adult Center on the 1st floor and move it against the building’s west wall.

• Enlarge Tech Training Center, encompassing existing Silent Study room and part of Heritage Archives.

• Enlarge 2nd floor Lobby to envelope elevator.

• Open east wall of Bolger Heritage Center toward Reference Center.

• Add Silent Study and 2 smaller study rooms to south wall of Mezzanine; add windows to solid walls.

• Reduce size of staff service desks and offices; add small staff “pods” in all public areas.

The estimated cost for construction and finishes is $5,252,126 to $6,374,583.

The following questions from members of the Board, Friends and Foundation were answered by Mr. Gisolfi.

(1) Will the parking issue be addressed? A: No, Parking was not in the Schematics proposal.

(2) Would the Young Adult area get larger? A: Yes, it would increase by almost 66%.

(3) How will the Performing Arts Center be different? A: The new space would allow for both fixed

seating and removable chairs, and could fit up to 260 seats all together.

(4) Will there be a new kitchen and ticket sale areas for accommodate entertainment and events?

A: The Lobby will feel larger due to the new layout of cafe counter. The larger kitchen area will be

on the 2nd level.

(5) Can the Auditorium open up to the outdoors? A: It’s possible with doors opening toward the patio.

The layout of the stage is also changed to encourage a more fluid flow of people.

(6) Is the total area of shelving changed? A: There is a slight reduction.

(7) To add versatility to the space, can you avoid using fixed table lamps? A. There can be mostly

ceiling lighting.

(8) How can we be sure the proposed budget is feasible? A: The owner’s architect contract would

include a clause requiring the architect to stay within proposed budget.

(9) Construction management? A: Construction supervision is included in the architect cost.

Mr. Fisher pointed out that from a taxpayers’ point of view, the library will be more multi-functional.

Ms. Campbell and the Board thanked Mr. Gisolfi and his team for the detailed presentation.

From the official minutes of the The Ridgewood Public Library Board of Trustees dated November 22, 2016:

“ARCHITECT PRESENTATION —Peter Gisoifi & Robert Mintzes”

Mr. Gisoifi presented revised floor plans and new hand-drawn renderings for the proposed library renovation.

Option A is the new plan which gives the Teen Center a prominent location with windows and an adjacent Makerspace Lab. Option B places a large Meeting Room in that location. Both versions show new meeting rooms of all sizes throughout the Library, and feature a circular central opening with spiral staircase that connects the 1st and 2nd floors under two new rooftop skylights. Phase 1 of the project would renovate all areas of the existing library, and Phase 2 would update the Auditorium into a Performing Arts Center, featuring tiered seating in a slightly larger footprint. From very early cost estimates, Phase 1 and Phase 2 are forecast to cost roughly $4 million and $1 million, respectively.

The plans were well received by all present. Mr. Gisoifi will firm up and verify the construction cost estimates, and will prepare a proposal for architectural design development.

Ms. Greene noted that the Library will need to develop a full Capital Budget Proposal to include all related costs – construction, site work, professional fees, furnishings, technology, moving and storage of all holdings and contingency. The Trustees discussed where to base the Library’s operations during the year or so of major construction. Ideas mentioned: Elks Club, Zusy Center at Village Hall, Brakeorama site, a storefront similar to the mini-mall space used by Wyckoff Library during their construction, or a temporary modular library in the parking lot, delivered by tractor trailer.