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Grand Opening of 5th Regional Library in Jersey City - First Branch Library Built in 42 Years

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Posted by GET NJ on August 28, 2004 at 14:02:01:

Jersey City Free Public Library
August 17, 2004
CONTACT: Michele M. Dupey
Public Information Officer

Named After Beloved Late Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham

JERSEY CITY, NJ August 17, 2004 – The Jersey City Free Public Library proudly announces the Grand Opening of the Glenn D. Cunningham Branch Library and Community Center on Tuesday, August 17, 2004 at 1:00 p.m. This branch replaces the Claremont Branch Library, which served its immediate neighborhood.

The first branch library built since the Five Corners Branch Library was constructed in 1962, the Glenn D. Cunningham Branch, located at 217-285 Martin Luther King Drive between Myrtle and Bostwick Avenues and in the heart of Jersey City’s African-American community, is the library system’s fifth regional library.

The new branch was originally named after its street namesake, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., from local community input. After the untimely death of New Jersey State Senator and Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham on May 25, Library Director Priscilla Gardner knew the best way to honor the man who often visited the Main Library’s New Jersey Room, who was a lover of learning and libraries, was to name the new regional branch after him, which has city-wide community support. The late Jersey City mayor is the first African American to serve in that position, and the first to serve as U.S. Marshal for NJ prior to being mayor.

The Grand Opening of the Glenn D. Cunningham Branch Library and Community Center takes place at 1 p.m., during lunchtime, to encourage local participation in the celebration. The ribbon cutting will indeed be a ‘celebration’ – with a special appearance by Robert Bell, a.k.a., “Kool” of Kool & The Gang. The Jersey City-based R&B group is internationally known for its ever-popular 1980 hit, Celebration. Jersey City’s Soul Generation, known for its Platinum hit, If I Had a Million Dollars, and PRIME are featured, too.

Former First Lady and widow of Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham, Sandra Bolden-Cunningham, will serve as Keynote Speaker at the Grand Opening of the Cunningham Branch Library. “In many ways, this is a most exciting time for the Jersey City Free Public Library,” said Library Director Priscilla Gardner, who also has served as project manager for the new library branch construction. “Yet, there is a bittersweet component to this celebration, since my great friend Glenn is not here alongside us. But I know Glenn is here in spirit, and watching the Grand Opening of our new branch library with happiness.”

Construction of the new branch has been ongoing since its ground breaking on July 24, 2003. Its location was specifically chosen to make a contribution to the MLK Redevelopment Area of Jersey City, known as ‘The Hub,’ by providing a second hub at the location of the new branch library, which was made possible by $1,740,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding and by $500,000 granted from the previous City Council’s Reinvestment Account. The Library Board of Trustees developed this project in cooperation with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, then-Board President Ervin L. Haynes, and then-Assistant Director Priscilla Gardner, the project manager.

The Glenn D. Cunningham Branch Library and Community Center will provide 21st century library services and programs to the citizens that will be served by the new branch library and will provide a community meeting space for the many organizations working the M.L. King Redevelopment Area.

Joining Library Director Priscilla Gardner, Project Manager, in the ribbon-cutting celebration, will be Jersey City Acting Mayor L. Harvey Smith, and members of the Municipal City Council, Jersey City Public Library Trustees President Mofalc O. Meinga and the Board of Trustees, the G.D. Cunningham Library staff, the Library’s architect, Helena Ruman, A.I.A., of Jersey City, known for her designs sensitive to the needs of its urban population, and Frank Gallo, who donated the plants for landscaping.

Glenn D. Cunningham was known far and wide, having served at the national, state, county and local levels of government, including as the first African-American U.S. Marshal for the District of New Jersey.

Dignitaries from all levels of government have been invited, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton; U.S. Senators Corzine and Lautenberg; U.S. Congressman Donald Payne (D-10th CD); U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie; David W. Thomas, U.S. Marshal for the District of Delaware; New Jersey Governor James E. McGreevey; fellow 31st District legislators, Assemblymen Louis Manzo and Anthony Chiappone; New Jersey State Senate President Richard J. Codey; New Jersey Secretary of State Regina L. Thomas; Assemblywoman Sheila Y. Oliver (D-34th LD); former 31st Legislative District State Senator Joseph Charles, now a justice with the Superior Court of New Jersey; Hudson County Freeholder Bill O’Dea; Newark Mayor Sharpe James, the Reverend Al Sharpton; former Jersey City Councilmen Dan Wiley and Jamie Vazquez, currently director of Jersey City’s Office of Veterans Affairs; and former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler.

# # #

Glenn D. Cunningham Branch Library & Community Center Building Statistics:

  • 1st Branch Library built in Jersey City since 1962

  • New Branch Library replaces a neighborhood library, the Claremont Branch

  • 5th Regional Branch Library in the JCFPL system (Main Library / 5 regional branches / 6 neighborhood branches)

  • The Property, located at 271-285 Martin L. King Drive in Jersey City, between Myrtle & Bostwick Avenues, is 20,804 square feet large and resides within the M.L. King Redevelopment Plan

  • Glenn D. Cunningham Branch Library & Community Center is a one-story high building of 5,626 square feet, with an outdoor shaded reading area and a children’s paving stone area for storytelling and public events

  • The Community Center is 1,350 square feet of space that will be available to non-profit community organizations, accommodating chairs and tables for 90 people

  • The new Library provides 21st century services and programs, geared for adults, children, and young adults, with outreach to schools, daycare centers, senior citizens centers, and community organizations

  • The Library space houses bookcases with a capacity of 7,900 volumes and 8 computer stations, with reading space for adults, young adults and children

  • The site includes parking for 13 cars, which is enclosed with an ornamental steel fence

  • This project was made possible by $2,240,000 in Community Development Block Grants and $500,000 from the previous City Council’s Reinvestment Account

  • The Library Board of Trustees developed this project in cooperation with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency, then-Board President Ervin L. Haynes, and then-Library Assistant Director Priscilla Gardner, the project manager

  • The staff from the Claremont Branch Library will staff the new library. (1 librarian, 1 supervising library assistant, 1 library assistant, and 2 part-time employees) The Jersey City Free Public Library system has over 86,000 registered card members, having come from 40,000 valid cardholders when the Library Card Registration Drive began in October 2002

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