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Renovations Modernize Oakland's Historic Library

Oakland Public Library renovations are in the works after more than a decade of delays. Photo Credit: Oakland Public Library
Oakland Public Library's renovation project will repair historic parts of the old facility while including new amenities. Photo Credit: Oakland Public Library

OAKLAND, N.J. — After more than a decade of litigations and delays in the borough, the Oakland Library's renovation project is underway.

Voters approved a referendum on the project in 2000, but new plans have been drawn up to proceed with the reconstruction of the original public library’s annex and other sections.

“To be able to restore a historic landmark back to its former glory and have people use it again —that’s huge,” Library Director Peter Havel said. “It’s going to be great to use it in more than one way.”

The governing body expected to go to bid in the winter months, but that date will most likely be pushed back, Havel said. He hopes the process won't take long.

Havel noted that often library staff and patrons must share areas or find space in the senior’s center or at Pond’s Church. He is looking forward to offering the community its own sound-proof and non-disruptive spaces.

“It is a community center, and it can do much more once the space is open up for it," Havel said of the library located in Municipal Plaza. "The computer lab, dedicated meeting and study spaces, web conference areas, makers’ spaces — all of those areas are not available now."

Havel, an Oakland resident who moved from North Haledon to the borough with his family this year, is also pleased that septic, lighting, and outdoor amphitheater spaces will be addressed by a comprehensive plan.

"If you look at our neighbors - Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff and Mahwah - they all have modern-day facilities.”

The adjustments will make the library a competitive facility, he said.

Arcari and Iovino Architects, of Little Ferry, the contractor, will discuss in further detail the project's three phases over the next month.

The first project phase with the highest priority and expense covers safety issues. The second will address the active use of the library, and the last will cover minor issues that may be addressed by the department of public works, according to authorities in their scope of the project.

“We are finally going to give Oakland residents the 21-century library they deserve," Havel said.

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