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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

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Ribbon Cutting Set for Cape May Library

Ribbon Cutting Set for Cape May Library

From Cape May County

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CAPE MAY – The rehabilitation and expansion of the Historic Franklin Street School in the City of Cape May as the County’s newest library is now complete, announced Cape May County Commissioner Director Len Desiderio and Library Commission Chair Jackie Henderson today (June 6).

“It has been four years in the making, but certainly worth the wait,” Desiderio said of the official opening of the new facility. “The County is proud to be a part of this great project that not only provides residents with opportunities for life-long learning and social engagement, but also enhances everyone’s quality of life.”

In mid-2020, the CMCLC submitted an application to the New Jersey State Library for funding to rehabilitate and repurpose the Historic Franklin Street School in Cape May – a facility built in 1927 as a segregated elementary school and now a designated New Jersey African American Historic Site. The application, awarding the Commission $3.447 million in November of that same year, was one of just 38 approved statewide out of more than 129 submitted. 

“This project – from start to finish – has been a very impressive partnership of people and purpose,” stated County Commissioner Will Morey, who serves as the Board’s Liaison to the CMCLC. “It has been great to watch it move from concept to construction, and I know that my fellow County Commissioners join me in encouraging everyone to visit and use this wonderful new facility.”

Morey noted that, as required by the grant, local contributions from the County of Cape May, the Library Commission, and the City of Cape May are supplementing the state funding. This, he said, demonstrates the exceptional nature of this project and is an excellent example of positive community impacts that come when different levels of government work together. 

“The Library Commission is thrilled that the construction of this new, 16,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art library is now completed,” Henderson said. “We are very much looking forward to the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony at 3:00 p.m. on June 13 and inviting all County residents to come and enjoy this wonderful, new facility for many years to come.”  

Also contributing to the cost of the project are the National Park Service’s African American Civil Rights Historic Preservation Fund and the New Jersey Historic Trust.

Located immediately adjacent to the Harriet Tubman Museum, the new facility is a destination library that offers the services and programming expected in a modern library, while preserving the notable African American history of the region.

“As I have said before, this project is a perfect example of how to preserve the past while preparing for the future,” noted Cape May City Mayor Zachary Mullock. “We have been able to save an important historic building by repurposing it into a 21st Century library that honors that history while meeting the educational, recreational, technological and other needs of the community.”   

Michael Calafati, AIA, the project architect, was a key player in the development of the CMCLC’s application and created the design and specifications of the new library.  “What started in the early part of this decade as an idea has now become a reality,” Calafati said. “For much of the past two years, this truly has been a labor of love,” Calafati stated. “This project brought together so many people and interests — contractors, representatives from the County, City and State, a wide range of professionals and other stakeholders – all of whom shared one goal and worked toward one purpose: building this terrific new library.”

Also assisting in writing the CMCLC’s successful application was Triad Associates of Vineland, NJ – a community and economic development firm that has secured more than $1.6 billion in funding for its clients over its 46 years in business.

Prior to the Dedication Ceremony at 3:00 p.m., the library will hold a Book Brigade at 1:00 p.m. at the old library location at 110 Ocean Street to reenact the transfer of books to the new facility, as was done in 1982 when the library moved from the basement of City Hall to Ocean Street.

This project is supported by funds from the New Jersey Library Construction Bond Act, administered by the New Jersey State Library.

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