A proposal to almost double the size of the Catherine Dickson Hofman Branch of the Warren County Library system has been met with skepticism by several Blairstown officials.
At the April 17th Blairstown Land Use Board meeting, library representatives outlined the plan for the Lambert Road facility, which would add approximately 6,000 square feet to the existing building. The presentation was described as a “courtesy review” for the Land Use Board.
Because the library system is overseen by Warren County, any plans for the building would not be subject to approval by the municipality although library officials have indicated they are open to concerns of the township.
Included among those concerns is the realignment of the driveway leading into the parking lot, which is located behind the building. Currently, one driveway serves as the entrance to the lot while a second driveway on the opposite side of the property provides an exit.
The proposed plans call for the building to be expanded over the inbound driveway, requiring its removal. The existing exit driveway would become a single, two-way driveway connecting the street with the parking lot.
Land Use Board member and Deputy Mayor Walter Orcutt said he was concerned about fire safety issues and the ability for fire apparatus to access the library with a single driveway leading to the parking lot, where the main entrance is located, and would continue to be under the expansion proposal.
Storm water drainage from the site was also a concern expressed by Orcutt.
Blairstown Mayor Rob Moorhead questioned the need for the expansion in the first place.
“It seems like a big spend,” Moorhead said. “I’m hoping the county did their due diligence on this.”
A self-described “cheapskate” when it comes to taxpayers’ money, Moorhead said that when developing the municipal budget, the township examines every cent it spends, adding he hopes the county is approaching the library the same way.
The presentation at the Land Use Board was the first formal introduction for the plans for the township. While there had been ongoing chatter for several years about the expansion, Moorhead and others said Blairstown officials had not been kept in the loop along the way.
Housed for decades in the old mill on Main Street, the Catherine Dickson Hofman Library became part of the county library system in 1985 and serves as a regional branch for the North Warren area.
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.
Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.
Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.
Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.