By Ron Leir
The long-talked about outdoor reading garden for the Kearny Public Library is a step closer to fruition … if the town can find a way to put a little more green into the picture … cash, that is.
Last Tuesday, April 9, the Kearny Town Council voted to accept a $100,000 grant from the Hudson County Open Space Trust Fund to facilitate what Library Director Josh Humphrey promises to be a real page-turner.
But the library may have to dig into its own coffers to seal the deal and complete the story.
Of the five contractors who picked up bid specifications, only two ended up submitting bids on April 1 for the project. Lou’s Landscaping and Design of Wayne offered to do the job for $245,303.50 and Brahma Construction Corp. of Wallington came in with a price of $297,856.
Simple arithmetic shows that even going with the apparent low bidder will leave the town short.
“The bids came in over our estimate,” Mayor Alberto Santos acknowledged last week. “We have 60 days to review the bids before we decide what to do.”
One option, Santos said, is for the library Board of Trustees to consider tapping its reserve account for library repairs and improvements which, he said, has “around $90,000.” That could help cover the gap, the mayor said.
Whatever the outcome, Humphrey is remaining optimistic that the garden can blossom.
“We’re looking at the section on the south side of the library, about 30 feet wide and as deep as the library building,” Humphrey said. “The plan is to landscape it and add in a patio for programming, such as outdoor music, perhaps a band on Saturdays, story time, yoga or some type of exercise, for example.”
And, of course, library patrons can sit and read during pleasant weather, too.
The library garden will shut at night, Humphrey said.
In the front of the garden area, bordering Kearny Ave., Humphrey said, “We’ll have plantings, trees, benches, a trellis – we’ll plant all around the perimeter.” Some type of sprinkler system will be installed for irrigation purposes, he added.
“We’re also going to get new fencing around the whole building and they’re going to fix some of the masonry that’s breaking off some of the adjoining properties,” he said.
Humphrey said the garden will be a welcome addition to a library building that’s cramped for space. “And our basement (where much of the library’s children’s and adult programs are held) – has no windows.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.